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That Long Commute May Be Harming Your Health
Date:5/8/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Now there's another reason to hate your commute.

New research has found that the longer your driving time between home and office, the less likely you are to exercise, the more your waistline widens and the worse your overall heart health becomes.

The findings come from a study of nearly 4,300 workers in Texas cities whose daily commute times were compared to their odds of various health risk factors.

"Previous studies have looked at sedentary behavior like TV viewing and total time spent driving," said study lead author Christine Hoehner, an assistant professor in the division of public health sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "But we wanted to look specifically at commuting distance, since it's an important part of people's daily routine."

"What we found ... is that long commutes can take away from exercise and are associated with high blood pressure, higher weight and generally lower fitness levels," Hoehner said. "This may make a lot of sense, because it's extremely intuitive. But it nonetheless suggests that longer commutes are really getting under the skin and affecting people's health."

The findings appear in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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 new study focused on adult Texans living in either the Dallas/Fort Worth or Austin regions.

No participant had a history of heart attack, stroke or diabetes, and none were pregnant. All were employed in jobs that required a commute of some kind.

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