The association between commuter cycling and sickness absence

Prev Med. 2010 Aug;51(2):132-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.05.007. Epub 2010 May 24.


Objective: To study the association between commuter cycling and all-cause sickness absence, and the possible dose-response relationship between absenteeism and the distance, frequency and speed of commuter cycling.

Method: Cross-sectional data about cycling in 1236 Dutch employees were collected using a self-report questionnaire. Company absenteeism records were checked over a one-year period (May 2007-April 2008). Propensity scores were used to make groups comparable and to adjust for confounders. Zero-inflated Poisson models were used to assess differences in absenteeism between cyclists and non-cyclists.

Results: The mean total duration of absenteeism over the study year was more than 1 day shorter in cyclists than in non-cyclists. This can be explained by the higher proportion of people with no absenteeism in the cycling group. A dose-response relationship was observed between the speed and distance of cycling and absenteeism. Compared to people who cycle a short distance (<or=5 km) three times a week, people who cycle more often and longer distances are absent for fewer days on average.

Conclusion: Cycling to work is associated with less sickness absence. The more often people cycle to work and the longer the distance travelled, the less they report sick.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transportation / methods*
  • Workplace