Sitting in traffic isn’t just frustrating, it’s fattening.
To get an idea as to why, let’s review the research:
• A 2012 University of Washington, St. Louis, study found that people with long commutes have higher body mass indexes, wider waistlines, and higher blood pressure.
• A 2006 UCLA and Cal State-Long Beach study found that miles driven correlates more strongly with obesity than any other lifestyle factor.
• A 2009 Brown University study found that each minute you spend commuting reduces your time spent exercising, preparing food, and getting sleep.
In other words, the longer your commute, the less time you have for anything else in your life that isn’t work. Commenting on the University of Washington study, MSNBC health blogger Bill Briggs writes that:
Clogged roads seem to clog arteries, in part, by eating into potential gym minutes. Among folks who drive 16-plus miles to earn a paycheck, the prevalence of obesity is almost 9 per cent higher while the rate of fitness is nearly 9 per cent lower versus those who journey six to 10 miles.
After all, it’s hard to get to the gym, do yoga, or go for a run when you’re backed up on the interstate.
Are there any solutions? For one, there’s the call of public transit and your own two feet. One reason, after all, that New Yorkers weigh six to seven pounds less than the average American is that the city has an extensive public transit system, as well as bike lanes and an emphasis on walking.
Cycling is an especially promising option: We’ve reported on how people who take their bikes to work report being more productive, taking fewer sick days, and save nearly $US8,000 a year over their car-owning peers.
You could also telecommute a day or two a week if your boss is flexible about such things, though research suggests people are more stressed at home than at work.
The best (albeit biggest) investment might be to simply move closer to your office. In addition to freeing up more time for exercise and making a walk to work a viable option, research shows that if you cut an hour-long commute out of your life, it’s the same as making an extra $US40,000 a year, as far as self-reported happiness levels indicate.
It could be good for your relationship, too: If you commute more than 45 minutes to work, you’re 40% more likely to get divorced.
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