"Add to the lengthy body of research on the connection between bad commutes and bad health yet another confirmation: a new study of automobile commuters found that longer trips to and from work correlated with various indicators of poor health, including decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, increased weight, high cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure. Yes, your long commute is literally making you less healthy.
The activity of driving to work should be better thought of as inactivity, and all that time sitting on your butt is slowly eating away at your cardiovascular health – and probably adding to your waistline. Those who have farther to travel tend to see worse results according to the study, which will be published in the June issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The study tracked 4,297 people who lived and worked in 11 counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Austin, Texas, metropolitan areas, and compared their commuting distances with various medical health indicators, including cardiorespiratory fitness, body mass index, and metabolic risk variables like waist circumference. The longer the commute, the greater the likelihood these health indicators measure up on the fat and sick side of the scale. The researchers also found that people who drove longer distances reported doing less physical activity overall.
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."
Read full article, Atlantic Cities Place Matters, 8 May 2012.