Riding to work or education each day can massively reduce the risk of stress, a major study has found.
Bike commuters who ride four days per week reduce their stress risk by 52% compared to those who use other modes of transport.
Even riding just once a week can lower the risk of stress by 20%.
The new study was undertaken in Barcelona by research institute ISGlobal, and published in BMJ Open.
It used almost 800 healthy adults (18 to 69 years of age) working or studying in Barcelona that responded to a comprehensive telephone survey.
“This is the first study that focuses on the relationship between bicycle commuting and perceived stress”, explains Ione Avila-Palencia, lead author of the study.
“We are a fairly stressed society and the conclusions of this study indicate that the bicycle may help reduce stress levels among the population”.
In general, people tend to use the bicycle more when the commute distance is shorter and when they have public bike share stations near home and work.
The study results also indicate that the risk of being stressed is lower when the urban environment is bicycle-friendly, for example bicycle lanes or public bicycle stations.
Thus, the authors conclude that urban planning that takes the bicycle into account can enhance the use of this mode of transport and thereby reduce the risk of being stressed.
Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, director of ISGlobalʼs Initiative of Urban Planning, Environment and Health, points out that “these results indicate that, in order to reduce stress and improve public health and well-being, political authorities should promote the use of bicycles and make it a priority when it comes to urban and transport planning”.