Research connects long commutes with health problems

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports that investigators “studied 4,297 commuters in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin metropolitan areas who had received a comprehensive medical examination between 2000 and 2007, comparing various aspects of their medical condition to distance commuted.”

The Time “Healthland” blog reports that the investigators found that “seventy-six percent of people who worked within five miles of their home averaged at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day (as federal health officials recommend), compared to just 70% of those whose commute exceeded 30 miles round-trip.”

Meanwhile, “people in the 30-mile-and-up club were more likely to be obese and to have an unhealthy waist size (40 inches for men, 35 inches for women).”

The CNN “The Chart” blog reports that study participants who spent more time commuting “had lower cardiorespiratory fitness, greater body mass index, waist circumference, and higher blood pressure.”

On its website, ABC News reports that the study’s lead author Christine Hoehner said, “Our study is the first to show that long commutes are associated with higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.”

HealthDay reports, “According to the researchers, the number of workers driving to work by private car more than doubled between 1960 and 2000, increasing from more than 41 million to nearly 113 million. The average distance traveled to work also has grown in recent years, from nearly nine miles in 1983 to more than 12 miles in 2001, the researchers said.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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