No, Seriously: The Long Haul to Work is Not Easy On Your Body

Nate Berg uncovers yet another study matching long commutes to poor health, from low fitness to high blood pressure.
May 9, 2012, 9am PDT | Ryan Lue
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We've written about this before. But researchers in Texas have yet another study to add to the overwhelming body of evidence linking long daily car trips to indicators of poor health.

The study, to be published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, followed 4,297 commuters throughout Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas. Not only did those with long commutes score worse on objective measures of health, they "reported doing less physical activity overall," Berg explains.

"And even when the researchers adjusted for each person's physical activity habits and cardiorespiratory fitness, both waistlines and body mass index increased right along with commute distance. Higher blood pressure was observed in commuters driving 10 miles or more to work. Those driving more than 15 miles each way were less likely to meet recommendations for 'moderate to vigorous' physical activity and were more likely to be obese."

Berg points out that the path of scientific inquiry doesn't end there. "The authors note that future studies would be needed to fully understand whether and how sedentary time during commuting affects health. For example, how is sitting in a car for an hour on your way to work different from sitting in your chair for an hour when you're at work? Or sitting on your couch? Or, instead of sitting in a driver's seat, sitting in a bus seat?"

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Published on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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