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Cycle to work for better mental health: Study

IANS Jan 17, 2024

Cycling to work may not only be beneficial for the environment but also for your mental health, says new research.

The study showed that people who cycle to work are less likely to be prescribed drugs to treat anxiety or depression than those who commute using different modes of transport.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, analysed data from 378,253 people aged 16-74 in Scotland, who were followed for up to five years.

The analysis suggests that commuting by cycle reduces the risk of mental health issues. The people included in the study lived and worked in Edinburgh or Glasgow, stayed within around one mile of a cycle path and did not have any prescriptions for mental ill-health at the start of the study.

Researchers found a 15 per cent reduction in prescriptions for depression or anxiety among cycle commuters in the five years compared with non-cyclists.

Commuting by bicycle led to greater reductions in mental health prescriptions in women than in men. The findings provide further evidence of the importance of promoting active travel and investing in infrastructure to encourage more people to commute by bicycle; the team says.

"Our finding that this economical and sustainable method of travelling to work also enhances mental health suggests that a policy of investing in cycle paths and encouraging active commuting is likely to have wide-ranging benefits,” said Chris Dibben, Professor at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

"Not only could this improve people's mental health, but it could also help reduce carbon emissions, road congestion, and air pollution," Dibben added.

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