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Health Takes a Back Seat When We Commute Long Distances

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Health Takes a Back Seat When We Commute Long Distances

The distance we drive during our daily commute does more than frazzle our nerves and fray our tempers. It can adversely affect our health.

Many of us are spending more and more time in our cars making that long commute to and from work each day. And if traffic backups and temper flare-ups aren’t enough to contend with, a new research study shows that as our commuting distances increase, so do the negative effects on our health.

Research has shown that sedentary activities, such as sitting, adversely affect our cardiovascular and metabolic health. But researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered that the longer distances we’re driving each day are decreasing our cardiorespiratory fitness and leading to weight gain.

Drivers’ stats
The study examined the driving distances of 4,297 residents of Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas metropolitan areas. Researchers also measured drivers’

Drivers also reported the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity they’d had over the past three months.

Test results
Drivers who drove the longest distances took part less frequently in moderate to vigorous physical activity. They also had

  • a greater body mass index
  • a larger waist circumference
  • higher blood pressure

Distance matters
Commutes of more than 10 miles (16 km) were associated with high blood pressure.
Commutes of more than 15 miles (24 km) resulted in higher rates of obesity and a greater likelihood that drivers were unable to meet recommended physical activity levels.

An association with the other metabolic risk factors was largely weak or insignificant. A longer commuting distance may also lead to an overall reduction in energy expenditure.

If commuting a long distance to work is your reality, be sure to make the time to get in some moderate to vigorous physical activity. Your body will thank you.

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