Research, Urban Planning, Environment and Health

Bicycle Commuters Have a Lower Risk of Being Stressed

A new ISGlobal study underlines the role of the bicycle in improving public health and well-being in cities


People who cycle to work or to school have a lower risk of being stressed compared to those who use other modes of transport, according to a new study by ISGlobal, an institution supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation.

The study, published in BMJ Open, shows that bicycle commuters who cycle at least once a week have a 20% lower risk of being stressed compared to those that never cycle. In fact, those who cycle four days per week reduce their stress risk by 52%.

In general, people tend to use the bicycle more when the commute distance is shorter and when they have public bicycle 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 an 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.

The study is part of the TAPAS project and was performed with 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, researcher at ISGlobal and 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”, she adds.

Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, director of ISGlobal’s 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”.


Avila-Palencia I, de Nazelle A, Cole-Hunter T, Donaire-Gonzalez D, Jerrett M, Rodriguez DA, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ. The relationship between bicycle commuting and perceived stress: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2017 Jun 23;7(6):e013542.