Longer commutes may steal health and fitness

Interesting fact: between 1960 and 2000, workers commuting in private vehicles jumped from 41.4 million to 112.7 million. As suburbs get bigger, my bet is that the only direction that figure is heading in is up. And while the typical NYC commute might be more about taking the train to Grand Central, then the subway, that’s still a good number of hours spent sitting down. As this article highlights, it’s crucial to balance that time with some good workout to beat obesity.

Anybody who has a long daily commute knows the frustration of sitting in traffic with nothing to do but wait. Now, a study suggests that long commutes can take away more than just precious time – they also negatively impact your fitness and health.
Previous research has linked longer commutes with obesity. But this new research is believed to be “the first study to show that long commutes can take away from exercise time,” explained lead investigator Christine M. Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis.
Long commutes are associated with “higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers,” she said.
One discovery that Hoehner found a little surprising was how “being exposed to the daily hassles of traffic can lead to higher chronic stress and higher blood pressure.”
Here’s how the research was conducted: Scientists studied 4,297 residents from the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, metropolitan areas. They documented their commuting distances, body mass indices, and metabolic risk, including waist circumference, fasting glucose and lipid levels and blood pressure. Participants reported their physical activity for the previous three months. Read more here.