New research out this month confirms previous studies…your commute is bad for you.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that people with longer commutes tended to be less active, more likely to be obese and carry excess belly fat, and more likely to have higher blood pressure.
The researchers studied 4,300 people in the car-centric metro areas of Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, Texas. People in the 30-mile-and-up (round trip) group were more likely to be obese and have an unhealthy waist size. People in the 20-mile-plus group were more likely to have elevated blood pressure.
And while weight and belly fat issues were linked to inactivity, the risk for higher blood pressure was apparent even in subjects who did get physical exercise.
“Hoehner and her colleagues can’t say for sure what’s driving the blood pressure finding. Contending with heavy traffic has been shown to cause stress, they note, and chronic stress can raise blood pressure. Another possibility is that long-haul commuters might skimp on sleep, eat more fast food and engage in other unhealthy behaviors that weren’t assessed in the study.” – Time.com
We see this research as another call to action for organizations who’ve made employee wellness a priority. Businesses can improve employee health by offering telework or flexible work options.
We’re curious how many of the research subjects making a 20-mile round trip commute did so during peak driving hours. Ten miles doesn’t sound so bad if you don’t have to struggle through bumper-to-bumper traffic. Employees with flexible start and stop times can sometimes shift their work day to avoid the worst of the traffic.
What health habits would you improve if you didn’t have to commute to work each day?
More commute research