Commuting to work is part of everyday life for most of us. Have you ever “zoned out” on your commute and you arrived at your destination? This is because you are tired physically and mentally, and your brain needs a break. So it does this during the most repetitive portion of your day… your commute.
Health Affects of Commuting
A study conducted by The Scottsman (a Scottish newspaper publication) identifies the health effects of commuting every single day, concluding:
Longer commute times are associated with: increased stress, higher blood pressure and BMI, reduced time available for health-promoting activities such as cooking, exercising and sleeping
Commuters spend an average of 56 minutes travelling to work each day, with research indicating that this has increased in recent years
There is growing evidence showing the detrimental impact of lengthy, non-active commutes on our health and well-being
Research indicates that commuting can reduce mental well-being and negatively impact physical health
Inactivity poses a major challenge to the public’s health
Chris Bailey, a partner at Mercer, said: “Time scarcity is a significant cause of stress and unhealthy behaviour”. Commuting is taking time out of our days and lives affecting the amount of time we can part take in physical activity.
After a long day at work and a half-hour or more commute home, you are more than likely tired and do not want to do much activity.
Another study conducted by The University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, examined the impact of commuting on employee health and productivity. They concluded that the health implications of commuting are:
Those who commuted to work in under half an hour gained an additional seven days worth of productive time each year, opposed to those who commuted for an hour or more at a time.
Longer commutes appeared to hurt mental well-being with longer commuting workers, with 33% more likely to suffer from depression
37% were more likely to have financial worries
12% were more likely to report multiple aspects of work-related stress
46% were more likely to get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night
21% were more likely to be obese
So how can you make your commute more healthy?
If you are taking a car, exercise your brain by learning something you’ve always have wanted to learn. There are a wealth of podcasts online, or audio books; you could even learn a language! The car commute can be relaxing when you realize you should not stress about the time because there is legitimately nothing you can do while sitting in traffic. Sit back, listen to your tracks, maybe have a cup of coffee. Try to turn stressful caught in traffic time into “me time.”
If you have to take the train or bus, try and refrain from using technology to get a head start to work. You can use the time to learn something like above, or use the fact that you’re not driving to go old school- bring a real book or newspaper, or even catch up on some sleep. If you are going to sleep on the train, make sure to put a timer on so you wake up 5 mins before your stop.
Living closer to work does help with your health, but obviously that’s not always easy to accomplish. Living close allows you to walk or bike to work daily, achieving 30 mins plus of exercise while coming or going from work!
For most of us, the work commute is a part of life we’re not going to be able to avoid. We might as well try to use that time to make life better instead of more stressful.