Longer Commutes Lead to Obesity, High Blood Pressure [Study]
The longer you sit in your car, the more unhealthy you get.
News like this may make you envy the guy who rides a bike to work, maybe.
A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that people who drive more than 15 miles to work each day are more likely to be obese and to carry a lot of fat around the belly. They are also less likely to get enough or as much exercise as those who drive less than five miles to work. People who commute for more than 10 miles were also more likely to have high blood pressure.
The study followed 4,200 adults living in Texas (where everything is bigger) and tracked to map the shortest road routes between workers' homes and offices. People in the study were also given treadmill tests to see how long they could exercise. From that observation by, researchers blood sugar levels, cholesterol, total fat, belly fat, and body mass index (BMI) would allow them to guess how often they exercised.
"The study is the first to show that long commutes can take away from exercise and are associated with higher weight, lower fitness levels, and higher blood pressure. And all of these are strong predictors of [heart] disease, diabetes, and some cancers," says researcher Christine M. Hoehner, PhD, an assistant professor of public health sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
"The car is tough because there's really no easy way to interrupt it," says Richard Krasuski, MD, director of adult congenital heart disease services and a staff cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. "If you're sitting at a desk, he says, you can at least get up and stretch once in a while. In a car, you're really confined to that space, you're not really moving around very much."
Now, the study doesn't flat out say "cars make people fat." But, there are factors that go into the theory they are pushing. One, when you spend most of your time in the car, you're more prone to eat in the car as well. Last time we checked, Whole Foods didn't have a drive-thru. But McDonald's? Sometimes they have two. Spending most of your time in a car also means that you may be more prone to eating sweet and salty snacks from the gas station.
So, what can you do to prevent yourself from becoming like the people in the study?
Researchers say that when you do get to work, you should take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can also pack healthy lunches and snacks for yourself. Also, instead of spending so much of your down time sleeping, try to do something active.
[Also Read: Black Americans Have Worst 'Well-Being' In US]