Is Commuting to Work Bad for Employees’ Health?

Unfortunately, it’s not great for the health.

A 2012 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine looked at “Commuting Distance, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Metabolic Risk.” The results:

The longer one’s commute, the less physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness and the higher one’s body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure and more. Commuting distance was negatively associated with physical activity and CRF and positively associated with BMI, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and continuous metabolic score in fully adjusted linear regression models. Logistic regression analyses yielded similar associations; however, of the models with metabolic risk indicators as outcomes, only the associations with elevated blood pressure remained significant after adjustment for physical activity and CRF.

In the words of the New York Times, the study¬†“revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol. The researchers also linked long driving commutes to a greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation, all of which can impair the quality and length of life.”

The piece notes more tough news for commuters: “Regardless of how one gets to work, having a job far from home can undermine health. Another Swedish study, directed by Erik Hansson of Lund University, surveyed more than 21,000 people ages 18 to 65 and found that the longer they commuted by car, subway or bus, the more health complaints they had. Lengthy commutes were associated with greater degrees of exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and days missed from work.”

Some solutions can include encouraging employees to: Bike or walk for as much of your commute as possible; find time during the day to exercise; or even work from home whenever possible, leaving more time for exercise or sleep.