Long Commutes Are Bad for Health

Moving to a more tranquil setting in suburbia or countryside may kill you, if it adds time to your commute. According to a study just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, longer commute times are linked to high blood pressure, increased weight and decreased fitness. The worst effects kick in when the distance exceeds 15 miles.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri chose the highly congested Dallas-Fort Worth area for their study. They looked at the records of nearly 4,300 adults who had a complete medical examination and a treadmill test between 2000 and 2007. After geocoding their work and home addresses, the researchers compared commuting time and health data.

The study’s lead author, Christine Hoehner, said:

Part of it is that people with longer commutes aren’t exercising as much. But there could be other factors like they’re eating (fast food) while driving or they’re getting less sleep because they donít have as much discretionary time.

Other studies have drawn similar links between commuting and health. John Pucher of Rutgers University led a research team that looked at active travel and found that people who commute on foot or by bicycle were less at risk for diabetes and obesity.

Lawrence Frank, Bombardier Chair in Sustainable Urban Transportation Systems at the University of British Columbia, has been studying the interplay between built environments and health for 20 years. In numerous studies, he has found that people in mixed-use environments are healthiest. Being close enough to walk or bike to shops, services, work and home increases physical activity and improves health.

Cities in the U.S. and Canada were built around the benefits and needs of our vehicles. As we redesign neighborhoods with the needs of people in mind, we may see significant impacts on our health and wellbeing.

Related Care2 Stories

Few Americans Use Public Transport, Drive Alone Instead

Biophilic Cities: Nature Meets Urban

How Does Clean Transportation Work?

Letís Take a Walk! Exercise Is Good for Our Brains

 

Photo credit: Thinkstock

69 comments

Huber F.
Huber F.3 years ago

This is worrying trend that should have brought out in the open before.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

That what sickens our environment, sickens all!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

That what sickens our environment, sickens all!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

That what sickens our environment, sickens all!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

That what sickens our environment, sickens all!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

That what sickens our environment, sickens all!

Shanie Mangulins
Shanie Mangulin3 years ago

We could solve so many problems if only we invested in adequate PUBLIC transportation, as opposed to 1person/1 vehicle insanity.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

I love my commute. I work third and am the single mom of a 2 yr old.. it is my only quiet time!

Margaret Cassidy
Margaret Cassidy3 years ago

I don't think its true in all situations. I have a 20km commute to work and I take country roads. Its about the only time I get to listen to all my cds so I think its great. I do agree though for other commutes that mainly involve driving on big highways with tons of traffic.

I don't really see the difference though in exercise. I probably would still drive even if I lived closer. Because you normally have to sometimes go for appointments or go and pick things up at the store, or get lunch etc.

Not getting enough exercise is up to you. I know myself I don't get enough but I could if I really wanted to. I could go to bed earlier and wake up earlier and go for a walk before work. Or do exercises in my home.

Ann W.
Ann W.3 years ago

Then there's the muscle aches and the tension headaches. And yet, we can't afford to live where we work.