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8 Health Risks Of Long Commute To Work

Health Risks Of Long Commute To Work
Health Risks Of Long Commute To Work

The long journey to commute to work is not a happy moment for most people. Moreover, the distant office and the time you spend on the streets can actually be detrimental to your physical and mental health.

If you live too far away from your job, long distances often have a negative impact on all aspects of your life. In addition to the high travel costs, long commutes can cause you to miss important health events and social gatherings. According to a 2012 study published in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine," prolonged stay limits exercise and can lead to health problems such as weight gain and high blood pressure.

Among people who work more than 40 hours a week, traveling more than half an hour to work on a typical day is associated with a 25% higher risk of having an unhealthy lifestyle and a 16% higher risk of sleep problems, found in one study.

Consequences of Overwork and Endless Commute

After a long day at work and long hours of commuting, people may not be able to exercise. The daily routine of most adults is determined by their work habits, including how much time they spend going to and from their jobs. While long working hours have long been linked to unhealthy behaviors such as inactivity, smoking, and poor eating habits, research is deeply immersed in the assumption of the combined effect of overwork and chronic commuting over time.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Working Too Far Away?

Here are some of the bad effects of long trips to work — by private vehicle, city bus, or train — on your health.

1. Blood Sugar Rises

Driving more than 16 kilometers daily, to and from work, is linked to high blood sugar. That was found by a team of researchers from the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas and published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine. High blood sugar levels can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.

2. Lack of Sleep

The 2012 Regus Work-Life Balance Index found that people who took more than 45 minutes to and from work each day reported lower quality sleep and higher levels of fatigue than people with shorter commute times. People with full-time jobs who endure long commutes are more likely to have sleep problems and sedentary habits than colleagues who work closer to home say a Swedish study. Among people who work more than 40 hours a week, traveling more than half an hour to work on a typical day is associated with a 16% higher risk of sleep problems, the study found.

3. Weight Gain

The further you commute to work each day, the higher your chances of being overweight. This is because long commuting trips make many people have to leave early in the morning and skip breakfast, so they prefer to buy simple and high-calorie fast food while on the road.

And of course, prolonged sitting in a car or huddled together in a train or bus leaves little time to get enough physical activity — which can contribute to increased body mass index and high blood pressure.

Among people who work less than 40 hours a week, travel time has not been shown to affect health behavior. People with long working hours and long commutes appear to be at greater risk for obesity than those who work or travel less, but this difference is too small to exclude that it may be due to chance.

4. Blood Pressure Rises

Long commutes during peak hours — coupled with the anxiety of arriving late for work — can result in increased stress that raises your blood pressure. This was evidenced in an experiment from a University of Utah research team, where participants were told they were late for a meeting and would be given a monetary incentive if they reached their goal as quickly as possible.

People who drove in more intense traffic conditions reported higher levels of stress and blood pressure than the group of participants who drove on leisurely roads. Over time, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

If you feel like you're always in a rush, it might be worth considering leaving at least an hour before rush hour — even if you arrive at work at the same time as usual. This way you will definitely feel less anxious during the trip.

5. Risk of Chronic Neck and Back Pain

A third of workers who commute to work more than 90 minutes per day say they experience persistent neck and back pain, according to a 2010 Gallup poll.

However, of all employees who take only 10 minutes or less to commute to work, only one in four people report back pain. The extra time spent sitting hunched over in a chair or while standing on buses and trains plays a big role in fostering this problem.

The solution is only one: try to always sit up straight, with good spine support and head straight at shoulder level. Good posture can help you reverse this problem, and is a lifestyle choice that requires you to remember it every day to become an automatic habit.

6. Vulnerable To Depression

According to a 2014 study from the University of East Anglia, Workers who drive their own vehicles or commute by public transport are reported to be less able to enjoy daily activities and have more difficulty concentrating than pedestrians or cyclists.

Interestingly, the researchers found that mental well-being scores decreased for those who commuted by car as time spent behind the wheel increased. It's the opposite for pedestrians: those who commute to work on foot have better mental health scores.

In addition, researchers from the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas also noted in the report that people with minimum traffic jams of 16 km each way had higher tendencies towards depression, stress, anxiety, and social isolation than those with whose commuting time is shorter or no commuting at all.

While there's not much you can do to shorten or eliminate travel time, you can get around this by doing something like listening to an interesting song or audio podcast.

You might also try chatting with the person next door. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, commuter bus, and train passengers report more positive experiences when they communicate with other passengers than when they shut themselves off.

7. Happiness and Life Satisfaction Decline

Workers whose offices are far away are usually more likely to feel nervous and anxious, dissatisfied, depressed, and feel more that their lives are meaningless than those who don't have to spend a long time commuting to the office.

This is a finding from the Office for National Statistics in the UK that looks at the impact of commuting on personal well-being. It's also been found that every extra minute of commuting to work makes you feel worse.

Taking the bus for 30 minutes or more is associated with the lowest levels of life satisfaction and happiness, but even if you're lucky enough to cycle to work and enjoy the beautiful nature, satisfaction will also decrease if the distance you cover is too long.

8. Exposure to Excessive Pollution

In a 2007 study of Los Angeles residents, it was found that up to half of their exposure to harmful air pollution occurs when they commute to work in their vehicles.

Study authors say driving with windows closed, using recirculated air conditioning, and driving slower than 30 km per hour can reduce exposure, but still not as much as if you cut driving time.

The same goes for cycling to work, says a 2010 Dutch study. However, the benefits of cycling, which can improve the work of the heart, still outweigh the health risks of exposure to air pollution.

What Do You Do if You Live Too Far From Your Job?

If you live too far away from your job, traveling long distances can negatively impact your overall health. In addition, fatigue from traveling can cause accidents at work and reduce productivity. In order to cope with the long journey, you may need to re-evaluate your location and work.

Make the Most of Your Travels

Many employees take full advantage of their situation by establishing a pool of cars with co-workers who live near them, or neighbors who work close to their place of work or travel by the same train, to reduce gas and car maintenance costs. One way to make the most of your time, whether by car or train, or plane, is to use the time you are a passenger to catch a nap, make important calls or prepare for work.

Request a Change in Schedule

One way to deal with long-distance travel is to reduce your travel expenses by asking for a change in your work schedule. You can set up a telephone communication system that allows you to work from home for part of the week. You can also request that you work out a longer daily schedule to reduce the trip to one day in less than a week.

Live Close To Your Workplace

When traveling or organizing options does not fit your needs, another option is to stay close to your workplace. You could set up rental accommodation from time to time during working hours alone or with a roommate or more, and then return home for vacations, or put your home for sale and get closer to work. Some companies provide their employees with on-site accommodation.

Work Closer To Home

If you can't stand your move, change your schedule or get closer to work, finding a job near home can be the answer. For example, if your company has resources near where you live, you could explain your situation to your employer and request a referral. If your local position with your company is not available, you can apply for jobs with other companies near your home.

Start Over

When you can't find work near your home, you may find that the only thing you can do is apply for a new place with housing opportunities nearby. You may need to sell everything and start over, or you can negotiate the cost of the move as part of your job benefits package.

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