Could Your Commute Be Killing You?

Commuters Metro

You probably hate your commute to work. It’s boring, inconvenient and often uncomfortable, but did you know that your commute could actually be causing your health issues and, in some cases, even increasing your chance of an early death?

Here are some of the most common ways that your commute could be hurting your health:

Increased Cortisol Levels

Back in 2004, research was conducted on a group of commuters traveling from New Jersey to Manhattan by train. It was found that the longer their journeys took, the higher their cortisol levels were and the tougher they found it to carry out a simple proofreading task when their trip was over. Since Cortisol is the main stress hormone, if you commute, it probably isn’t too surprising that you would feel stressed out at the end of the week.

Unfortunately, chronic levels of high stress can cause a whole host of issues from mental illnesses like anxiety and depression to high blood pressure, digestive issues and even your body’s ability to control its sugar levels. All of these things, under the wrong circumstances, could contribute to serious health issues and even a premature death!

An Unhealthy Lifestyle

Another survey of commuters carried out by the American Time Use survey in 2009 found that for each minute they spend on their journey, commuters get 0.22 minutes less sleep, which means that a two-hour round journey will cut 26.5 minutes of sleep out of your day. This might not seem like a lot, but it’s enough to make you less healthy than individuals who don’t commute or do not have to travel quite as far.

In a 2010 study, it was found that employees who have a long commute to work were more likely to be obese and suffer from high cholesterol than those with a short journey to work, partly because the increased travel time left them less time to exercise and prepare healthy meals.

Obesity and lack of sleep can both contribute to poor general health and a lower life expectancy, so these are both very worrying findings for anyone who must suffer a length commute.

Accidents on the Road

Last year, as many as 40,000 people died in road traffic accidents, and many more were injured and had to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer so that they could get help with their day to day expenses. If you travel to work by car, not only are you at a very real risk of being involved in a collision during rush hour but if your windows are rolled down, you’ll also be breathing in toxic fumes that will cause your health to suffer.

Back Issues

Spending several hours a week slumped in a car, train or subways seat has dire consequences for your back health and your posture. Regular commuters are much more likely to suffer from neck and back pains, which can cause other health issues in themselves If they regularly take drugs for the pain, this could also cause life-shortening issues, too.

The daily commute can be bad for your health, but it doesn’t have to be. You can’t change all of the issues outlined here, but you can make an effort to exercise and eat healthily and may be able to improve your posture somewhat. If you can, try working from home at least a couple of times a week and just try not to stress out too much!