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Health Costs

2012-06-01 00:00:00 UTC by Erin

Commuting has all kinds of consequences in regards to your health. Numerous studies have been conducted to find out how your commute impacts both your emotional and physical well-being. Here are just a few examples:


Divorce Rate:


It seems pretty intuitive that the longer you spend commuting, the less time you have to spend with your family. But did you know that relationships in which one partner has a commute of 45 minutes or longer have a 40% increase in the possibility of divorce?!1 When you factor in a partner possibly waiting at home for someone to arrive at a certain time and a commuter who is trying to make that time, the unknown variables of any commute are bound to create unneeded tension and stress.


Happiness:


The more you commute, the less happy you are. Dealing with traffic is stressful in and of itself. Add in having to be at work or home by a certain time, and your stress level can skyrocket. This stress and unhappiness spills over to everyone in your family and builds up day after day. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, about 19% of US commuters have a drive of over a half hour to get to work, and 3% have over an hour to drive. For those that commute over 90 minutes to work, “40% experienced worry for much of the previous day -- significantly higher than the 28% among those with negligible commutes of 10 minutes or less.” They were also less likely to have gotten much enjoyment out of the previous day.2


Fatigue:


Do you find yourself feeling more tired and run-down since you began your commute? Commuting takes time away from other responsibilities you have, like helping with the homework, getting dinner ready, shopping for groceries, etc.3 Once those things have been taken care of, there is very little time left to unwind before you have to grab what sleep you can to start the cycle over again the next day.


Obesity and Cholesterol/Heart Disease:


If you’re spending more time commuting, you have less time to be moving. This startling infographic shows just how bad sitting can be for you. Grabbing a few minutes of vigorous exercise every day is not enough to balance out the effects. Because a longer commute leaves less time for everything else in your life, including exercising, those facing this situation are much more likely to be obese and have higher cholesterol levels than those with shorter commutes.4 Less time also means you may find yourself relying more often on less healthy food options that require little-to-no preparation, which again, contributes to an increase in cholesterol levels and blood pressure. In his research, Thomas James Christian of Brown University states that, “Each minute spent commuting is associated with a 0.0257 minute exercise time reduction, a 0.0387 minute food preparation time reduction, and a 0.2205 minute sleep time reduction.”5 That doesn’t sound like much does it? But it really adds up over days and weeks and years.


 


1http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/11/834#B4
2http://www.gallup.com/poll/142142/wellbeing-lower-among-workers-long-commutes.aspx
3http://bls.gov/tus/charts/
4http://www.gallup.com/poll/142142/wellbeing-lower-among-workers-long-commutes.aspx
5http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1490117