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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
May 21, 2012

A Long Commute to Work May Lead to Health Problems

The distance you travel to and from the workplace could be affecting your health. By Jennifer Chan
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According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people who travel a long distance from home to their place of work are more likely to develop high blood pressure, obesity, and excess belly fat

Surveying 4,300 people who live and work in the metropolitan areas of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin in Texas, researchers tried to find out just how the distance from the office to the home affected commuters. Upon analysis of the results, researchers found that those who lived closer to their place of work had fewer health problems. In fact, among the participants who lived within five miles (roughly 8 kilometers) of the workplace, 76 percent exercised for an average of 30 minutes. Among those who had a 30-mile (roughly 48 kilometers) commute back and forth, however,70 percent had an average of 30 minutes of physical activity. 

For those who lived outside the 30-mile radius, researchers found that they were more likely to have an unhealthy waist size and have high blood pressure. This increase may be attributed to the stress of having to commute home and lacking enough rest.

While the study focused on people driving to and from the workplace, Christine Hoehner, lead researcher and assistant professor in the division of public health sciences at Washington University, cited a 2009 report from the American Community Survey, which said that over 86 percent of workers commuted by car, train, or bus with the journey lasting 25 minutes on average. With such figures, she said it was important for workplaces to enable their employees to get more physically active.

"If it’s possible for people who live closer to work to walk or bike, there’s been health benefits associated with active commuting," she is quoted as saying on FoxNews.com.  " You can’t tell people to move. But the main message for people who live a long way from work or sit at work: Find ways to build physical activity into you day or break up your sitting times."


(Photo by Robin Hickman (Asian Development Bank) via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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