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Associations between active commuting and physical and mental wellbeing

David K Humphreys, Anna Goodman, David Ogilvie
Preventive Medicine 2013, 57 (2): 135-9

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether a relationship exists between active commuting and physical and mental wellbeing.

METHOD: In 2009, cross-sectional postal questionnaire data were collected from a sample of working adults (aged 16 and over) in the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study. Travel behaviour and physical activity were ascertained using the Recent Physical Activity Questionnaire (RPAQ) and a seven-day travel-to-work recall instrument from which weekly time spent in active commuting (walking and cycling) was derived. Physical and mental wellbeing were assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form survey (SF-8). Associations were tested using multivariable linear regression.

RESULTS: An association was observed between physical wellbeing (PCS-8) score and time spent in active commuting after adjustment for other physical activity (adjusted regression coefficients 0.48, 0.79 and 1.21 for 30-149 min/week, 150-224 min/week and ≥ 225 min/week respectively versus < 30 min/week, p=0.01 for trend; n=989). No such relationship was found for mental wellbeing (MCS-8) (p=0.52).

CONCLUSION: Greater time spent actively commuting is associated with higher levels of physical wellbeing. Longitudinal studies should examine the contribution of changing levels of active commuting and other forms of physical activity to overall health and wellbeing.


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