4 July 2015

Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?

Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?
Longitudinal evidence from eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey

Adam Martin, Yevgeniy Goryakin, Marc Suhrcke

Abstract

Highlights

The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between active travel and psychological wellbeing.

  • Impact of commuting behaviour on wellbeing was explored using individual fixed effects analyses.
  • Compared to driving, wellbeing was higher when using active travel or public transport.
  • Use of active travel reduced the likelihood of two specific GHQ12 psychological symptoms.
  • Switching from car driving to active travel improved wellbeing.
  • Wellbeing increased with travel time for walkers, but decreased for drivers.

Objective

The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between active travel and psychological wellbeing.

Method

This study used data on 17,985 adult commuters in eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey (1991/2–2008/9). Fixed effects regression models were used to investigate how travel mode choice, commuting time and switching to  active travel impacted on overall psychological wellbeing and how (iv.) travel mode choice impacted on specific psychological symptoms included in the General Health Questionnaire.

Results

After accounting for changes in individual-level socioeconomic characteristics and potential confounding variables relating to work, residence and health, significant associations were observed between overall psychological wellbeing (on a 36-point Likert scale) and (i.) active travel (0.185, 95% CI: 0.048 to 0.321) and public transport (0.195, 95% CI: 0.035 to 0.355) when compared to car travel, (ii.) time spent (per 10 minute change) walking (0.083, 95% CI: 0.003 to 0.163) and driving (−0.033, 95% CI: −0.064 to −0.001), and (iii.) switching from car travel to active travel (0.479, 95% CI: 0.199 to 0.758). Active travel was also associated with reductions in the odds of experiencing two specific psychological symptoms when compared to car travel.

Conclusion

The positive psychological wellbeing effects identified in this study should be considered in cost–benefit assessments of interventions seeking to promote active travel



Full article click here (Open Access)

Original source  Michael Evans