Long Commute To Work Linked With Being Overweight: Study

Why A Long Commute To Work Could Be Hurting Your Health

Here's one reason to move closer to work.

New research shows that people who spend more time commuting to work are also more likely to weigh more, have decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, and have metabolic risk factors.

Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis found that people who have to travel more than 15 miles to go to work every day are also less likely to fulfill exercise recommendations, and are more likely to be obese. Meanwhile, hypertension is linked with having to travel more than 10 miles to work.

Study researcher Christine M. Hoehner, Ph.D., MSPH, speculated that the reason for this finding is that people might exercise less because of their long commutes.

"It could just be a function of having less discretionary time to be physically active," Hoehner told ABC News. "Or it could be related to people burning fewer calories because they're sitting longer."

The research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, included 4,297 people who both live and work in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin metro areas in Texas. Their cardiorespiratory fitness, BMI and metabolic risk (waist circumference, cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar levels and fasting triglyceride levels), were all measured, as well as the distance between home and work.

Researchers added that more investigation is needed to see how other sedentary activities -- like TV watching -- could also factor with commute to influence health.

Last year, a study in the journal BMC Public Health showed that driving a car to work -- versus riding a bicycle or walking to work -- is linked with more stress, exhaustion, poor sleep and possibly even more missed workdays.

In the United States, the average daily work commute is 25.1 minutes, according to 2009 government census data. Just over 86 percent of Americans drive a car, truck or van to work, while 5 percent of Americans reported that they take public transportation. A little over 13 percent of Americans have a less-than-10-minute commute, while 15 percent of Americans have a 15 to 19-minute commute, and 7.1 percent have a 45 to 59-minute commute.

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