A Long Commute Can Hurt Your Health
A long commute won’t just grate on your nerves, it could also negatively affect your well-being.
The typical worker who spends about 60 minutes a day in the car spends less time on health-related activities, such as sleep, exercise and preparing food, according to a new study by Brown published this week by the Journal of Urban Health.
The study took into consideration the responses of 24,861 people to the Federal American Time Use Survey. Among other findings, the researchers discovered that the average American spends 62 minutes commuting and over 10 percent of full-time workers spend 120 minutes or more commuting a day.
Overall, a 60-minute commute will carve 6% out of the time you would otherwise devote to a combination of healthy behaviors. Spending an hour on the road a day reduces your sleeping time by 30.6%, your physical activity by 16.1%, and food preparation time by 4.1%.
Increasing your commute time from one hour to two will only exacerbate the problem. People who spend 120 minutes in transit chop their exercise time by 23 percent, the time the spend preparing food by 17 percent reduction, and sleep time by 3 percent.
“The results indicate that longer commutes are associated with behavioral patterns which over time may contribute to obesity and other poor health outcomes,” wrote Thomas J. Christian, Brown public health research fellow and study author.
To combat unwanted health effects, Christan suggests using coping strategies such as telecommuting, walking or cycling instead of driving, and parking further away in order to squeeze in some extra exercise.
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