Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing? Longitudinal evidence from eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey.
Preventive Medicine 2014
PubMed ID : 25152507
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 (i.) travel mode choice, (ii.) commuting time, and (iii.) 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 (GHQ12). 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 the 36-point GHQ12 wellbeing scale and (i.) active travel (0.185, 95% CI: 0.048–0.321) and public transport (0.195, 95% CI: 0.035–0.355) when compared to car travel, (ii.) time spent (per 10 minute change) walking (0.083, 95% CI: 0.003–0.163) and driving (− 0.033, 95% CI: − 0.064–− 0.001), and (iii.) switching from car travel to active travel (0.479, 95% CI: 0.199–0.758). 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.