All That Driving may Prevent you From Thriving: Your Waistline may not be the Only Thing Needing a Trim

A recent study shows that commutes longer than fifteen miles can lead to obesity, increased belly fat, high blood pressure and lack of exercise.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, included more than 4,200 adults who commuted to work in two Texas cities. The study found that people who commuted more than fifteen miles a day were more likely to be obese, have increased amounts of belly fat and were also less likely to get an adequate amount of exercise than those who commuted less than five miles a day. The study also showed that people who drove at least ten miles to work each day tended to have high blood pressure.

A preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Suzanne Steinbaum, DO states, “You are on your way to heart disease. You have an elevated blood pressure, an elevated BMI, an elevated waist circumference; you’re on your way to diabetes and high cholesterol.”

The study cannot link these outcomes to extended commutes directly, holding that these results may indicate that longer commutes lend themselves to unhealthy habits, thus causing the resulting depletion in health. However, previous studies involving traffic have linked increased stress and high levels of blood pressure with traffic levels and road congestion. Additional factors may include lack of sleep, less free time, and increased consumption of fast food.

Much like death and taxes, commuting is a part of life. Jobs, offices, and hours often change on a whim; to this end time management becomes an essential part of life outside the commute. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator, wearing a fitness tracking device and getting enough sleep are all small measures you can take to prevent your commute from chipping away at your health. No matter the cause, this correlation is hard to ignore and another excellent reason why Atlanta’s ever present traffic problem needs to be addressed with the Regional Transportation Referendum on July 31, 2012. Vote YES for les rigor and more vigor.

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