UPI reported Tuesday on a new study that has found that long daily commutes have an adverse effect on a person’s overall health. Such commutes add to the time that a person spends sedentary every day, which can impact weight gain and cardiovascular health.
Here is some of the key information regarding commuting and its health risks.
* The study, which was conducted by researchers working out of Washington University in St. Louis, looked at 4,297 residents of Texas who lived in 12 of the state’s metropolitan areas. All of the participants had routine medical examinations between the years of 2000 and 2007. The results of all the examinations were put together and analyzed last year before the researchers made their final conclusions.
* Researchers found that people who commute more than 16 miles each way to get to and from work had a 9 percent higher rate of obesity than those who travel between 6 and 10 miles each way, according to MSNBC.
* People who commute have a corresponding lower rate of physical fitness as well, to the tune of nearly the same 9 percent.
* This lower rate of physical activity and higher rate of obesity can contribute to a greater risk of cardiovascular issues over time, including heart attacks.
* People who have a longer commute also tend to have higher blood pressure, according to WebMD. Researchers found that those who commuted more than 16 miles each way had blood pressure levels that were elevated by as much as 52 percent. They noted that much of this effect was probably due to the added stress that being stuck in heavy traffic for an extended period of time tends to cause.
* Additionally, because people with longer commutes have less time in their day to dedicate to activities besides driving, there is an increased risk that their diet and sleep patterns are poorer than those with shorter commutes.
* The researchers broke the risk down by looking at individual miles versus their impact on a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI). They found that for every 10 miles that a person had to commute on a daily basis, their BMI was elevated by .17 units.
* The number of people with long commutes to and from work is increasing. In 2010, more than 8 percent of workers in the U.S. had a daily commute that lasted an hour or more each way.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.