"Millions of Americans . . . pay dearly for their dependence on automobiles, losing hours a day that would be better spent exercising, socializing with family and friends, preparing home-cooked meals or simply getting enough sleep," writes Jane E. Brody. "The resulting costs to both physical and mental health are hardly trivial."
But such costs aren't just borne by Americans, or car commuters.
"Erika Sandow, a social geographer at [Sweden's] Umea University, found that people who commuted more than 30 miles a day were more likely to have high blood pressure, stress and heart disease," notes Brody. "Another Swedish study, directed by Erik Hansson of Lund University, surveyed more than 21,000 people ages 18 to 65 and found that the longer they commuted by car, subway or bus, the more health complaints they had. Lengthy commutes were associated with greater degrees of exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and days missed from work."