Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long commutes may be hazardous to health

Date:
May 8, 2012
Source:
Elsevier Health Sciences
Summary:
As populations move even further away from urban centers, more people spend longer hours behind the wheel on their way to and from work. While sedentary behavior is known to have adverse effects on cardiovascular and metabolic health, the impact of long commutes by automobile are less understood. A new study has found that greater commuting distances are associated with decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, increased weight, and other indicators of metabolic risk.

As populations move even further away from urban centers, more people spend longer hours behind the wheel on their way to and from work. While sedentary behavior is known to have adverse effects on cardiovascular and metabolic health, the impact of long commutes by automobile are less understood. A new study has found that greater commuting distances are associated with decreased cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), increased weight, and other indicators of metabolic risk.

The results are published in the June issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"This study yields new information about biological outcomes and commuting distance, an understudied contributor to sedentary behavior that is prevalent among employed adults," explains lead investigator Christine M. Hoehner, PhD, MSPH, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. "It provides important evidence about potential mediators in the relationship between time spent driving and cardiovascular mortality."

Researchers studied 4,297 residents who lived and worked in eleven counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Austin, Texas metropolitan areas. Commuting distances were calculated with ArcGIS9 software and measured the shortest distance from home to work along the road network. CRF, body mass index (BMI), and metabolic risk variables including waist circumference, fasting triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and blood pressure, were measured. Self-reported participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity over the previous three months was also assessed.

The study found that people who drove longer distances to work reported less frequent participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity and decreased CRF, and had greater BMI, waist circumference, and blood pressure. The association remained when physical activity and CRF were adjusted for, although to a lesser degree for BMI and waist circumference. Those who commuted more than 15 miles to work were less likely to meet recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity, and had a higher likelihood of obesity. Commuting distances greater than 10 miles were associated with high blood pressure.

Dr. Hoehner explains that longer commutes may replace participation in physical activity, given the association between commute time and physical activity and CRF, and the lesser association with adiposity after adjustment for physical activity. "At the same time, both BMI and waist circumference were associated with commuting distance even after adjustment of physical activity and CRF, suggesting that a longer commuting distance may lead to a reduction in overall energy expenditure," she notes.

Association of commuting distance with the other metabolic risk indicators was largely weak or insignificant, with the exception of blood pressure. Multiple mechanisms could be contributing to this relationship. "The Dallas-Fort Worth region is ranked among the top five most congested metropolitan areas, and those with longer commutes may be more likely to be exposed to heavy traffic resulting in higher stress levels and more time sitting," says Dr. Hoehner.

Commuting by automobile represents only one of many forms of sedentary behavior, and this study did not examine other important contributors such as occupational sitting and TV viewing. Dr. Hoehner notes that future studies are needed to assess sedentary time across multiple behaviors to identify the independent effects of commuting on health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C.M. Hoehner, C.E. Barlow, P. Allen, M. Schootman. Commuting Distance, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Metabolic Risk. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 42, Issue 6 (June 2012) DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.02.020

Cite This Page:

Elsevier Health Sciences. "Long commutes may be hazardous to health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508103921.htm>.
Elsevier Health Sciences. (2012, May 8). Long commutes may be hazardous to health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508103921.htm
Elsevier Health Sciences. "Long commutes may be hazardous to health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508103921.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins