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Your Commute is Killing You

100 bucks a week in gas. That douchey radio DJ who nicknamed himself “Thunder.”  The Hummer in front of you with the “NUMBER1STUNNA” vanity plate. There’s tons of stuff that sucks about commuting to and from work. You know what’s worse than tolls, road rage and endless classic rock though? Becoming an out-of-shape, unhealthy tub of lard. According to a recent study, that half-hour drive to your cushy job at the pirate-themed mini golf course could have a serious impact on your health.

It's killing you

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that those with long car commutes are at greater risk of obesity and less likely to participate in physical activities. The team, led by Christine M. Hoehner PhD, studied more than 4,000 adults from Texas between 2000 and 2007. Hoehner and other researchers measured each participant’s body mass index, cardiorespiratory fitness, waist circumference and other variables. They also asked each participant to report on their physical activities every week for three months.

The team found that, for the most part, people who drove longer distances to work participate less often in “moderate to vigorous physical activities.” They also found that these long commuters had higher blood pressures, greater body mass indices and larger waists. Those that drove over 15 miles to work were more likely to be obese and less likely to participate in the bare minimum physical activity recommended for adults. The full study, “Commuting Distance, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Metabolic Risk,” is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. You can read it here.

What does all this mean for those of us that drive to and from the office/factory/Jack in the Box every day? The best solution might be to just quit your job altogether and eek off one of your rich uncles. If that’s not a possibility, however, you should start exercising more and/or figuring out a new way to get to work.

Spend an hour or two a day driving to your job and don’t think you have the time to work out? Stop making excuses. In as little as 15-30 minutes a day, depending on the intensity, you can work in a decent fitness routine. You don’t even have to go the gym. Buy some weights, run around the block, take up badminton, whatever you’ve got to do.You can even incorporate some light workouts into your commute. Sitting in traffic? Take advantage of isometric contractions! Squeeze and activate a muscle, hold for a few seconds and release. This is great for abs.

If possible, consider leaving your Beamer back at home. Is your job just a couple miles away? Leave a change of clothes in the breakroom and run to and from work. Riding a bike to work is another great way to stay in shape and save money on gas.

Just because your job is ten miles away doesn’t mean you have to start buying XXXXXXXL t-shirts. Get regular exercise and/or change your method of transportation and you’ll be a fit commuter. Whether or not you slack on the job is up to you.

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About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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