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Longer commutes may steal health and fitness
May 8th, 2012
12:05 AM ET

Longer commutes may steal health and fitness

Anybody who has a long daily commute knows the frustration of sitting in traffic with nothing to do but wait. Now, a study suggests that long commutes can take away more than just precious time - they also negatively impact your fitness and health.

Previous research has linked longer commutes with obesity. But this new research is believed to be "the first study to show that long commutes can take away from exercise time,” explained lead investigator Christine M. Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis.

Long commutes are associated with "higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers,” she said.

One discovery that Hoehner found a little surprising was how “being exposed to the daily hassles of traffic can lead to higher chronic stress and higher blood pressure.”

Here's how the research was conducted: Scientists studied 4,297 residents from the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, metropolitan areas. They documented their commuting distances, body mass indices, and metabolic risk, including waist circumference, fasting glucose and lipid levels and blood pressure. Participants reported their physical activity for the previous three months.

What did scientists learn?  Commuters who said they drove longer distances also reported they took part in less moderate or vigorous physical activity. They had lower cardiorespiratory fitness, greater body mass index, waist circumference, and higher blood pressure.

For a little historical perspective - as obesity rates have increased - so have the number of American commuters and the length of commute times.

Between 1960 and 2000, workers commuting in private vehicles jumped from 41.4 million to 112.7 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. And as suburbs have sprawled across the nation since the 1950s, commuter miles have increased too, along with the time drivers spend sitting behind the wheel. according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For many commuters, moving closer to work isn't an option but Hoehner said there are solutions that can lead to more exercise.

Commuters should find ways to work physical activity into their work days said Hoehner, by doing things like walking during work breaks. Employers could also help, she said, by encouraging fitness break and by offering schedule flexibility to commuters, if possible.


soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Derek

    Urban Sprawl is bad.

    May 8, 2012 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Charles

      David
      I wonder how many tax dollars were wasted on this study? Someone got paid to state the obvious again.

      You conservatives are so funny.
      The Gubernator hated waste so he had the cheapest Chinese steal and concrete on the Bay Bridge that now be replaced at a much higher cost than if he would have did it right the first time.

      All while he himself wore $10,000 suits, spent untold money on steroids, and spent big money on rock star security for himself on the gubment dime. While cutting state workers who were bums who didn't use steroids as an easy way to be a star.

      Conservatives always have money to spend on themselves. You are just not that important to them.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
  2. tasha5951

    They really needed a study to prove this? And they were suprised that long commutes lead to chronic stress and high blood pressure??? Really?! Not suprising at all!

    May 8, 2012 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spock500

      Yes, Tashsa. Really. Please, get over yourself.

      May 8, 2012 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
    • RonGee

      Tasha – Controlled trials have to be done to quantify any clinician problem. I call tell you have no science background

      May 8, 2012 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Clearly Tasha5951's long commute is causing her stress and high blood pressure.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • A

      What RonGee said. Of course, once someone else does the work for you, it's easy for you to claim you already knew this.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Yep, they need research money to figure out that sitting in traffic is bad for you. I wonder if there are money for research that junk food is bad for you, I guess not. let's wait until 100% of population is obese.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • David

      I wonder how many tax dollars were wasted on this study? Someone got paid to state the obvious again.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Mot Yrreb

      WRONG RONGEE, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE BITTEN BY A RATTLESNAKE TO KNOW BEING BITTEN BY A RATTLESNAKE IS HARMFUL. IT IS OBVIOUS YOU KNOW SCIENCE, BUT LITTLE ABOUT COMMON SENSE.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
    • Lara

      Here's the thing: until that scientific study is conducted, it's very easy for people who don't want to face the truth to dismiss the common sense claims it proves. Even WITH the study confirming the "obvious," a lot of people are going to attempt to ignore it because moving closer to their office or changing jobs, even for the sake of their health and well-being, isn't something they want to do. But these results are going to be very useful in the fields of workplace reform and urban planning because now decision-makers can factor these numbers in when they're looking at the costs and benefits of building a new office block in a particular location, or including an on-site gym in their building. Those decisions are always made using hard data rather than nebulous common sense, so turning common sense into hard data is NEVER useless.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  3. Sam Jones

    And yet we chose to ignore the development of a planned and efficient Public Transportation system.

    May 8, 2012 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      Sitting on a bus or subway is just as bad as sitting in a car.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • etri

      Exactly, the lack of public transportation is a key issue. If there was a DECENT public transportation system there would be far fewer cars around... and since this would hurt the oil industry, it will never be done as long as those who take all the decisions are dummies for the oil industry

      May 8, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • LUKE

      What is considered a long commute?

      May 8, 2012 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      To David, part of the article pointed out that the long driving commute contributes to stress. Common sense tells me that the stress of actually driving yourself is different than sitting while someone else drives you. Sitting on a bus usually gives you time to read a book or meditate or chat with a neighbor. Certainly in terms of how much actual time is taken out of your day, the two methods of commuting are comparable, so perhaps you could compare them in terms of how much time is left over to go the gym. But that is only a partial picture of the issue. Without further study, I don't think you can conclude that sitting on a bus poses the same level of health threat as driving, because we don't know that it is equally stressful.

      May 8, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
    • David

      To KJC, all the time sitting contributes to obesity diabetes and early death whether you're driving or not.

      May 8, 2012 at 17:44 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      @David: Taking public transit isn't the same as driving in a car. I take public transit in Portland every day to work and have to wear a pedometer as part of my work's cheaper health insurance plan. I walk about 1-2 miles a day extra just from taking the bus and lightrail. The walking to, from, and between stops for transfers really adds up. Unless your bus stop is right outside your driveway and drops you off right at your work's parking lot it is different than a car. Plus you do not have the stress of traffic during peak hours, which makes me more enthusiastic about working out in the evening when I get home.

      May 9, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
  4. David T

    Normally, you will notice only one person in each car during commuting times. Thus it creates more bottlenecks in traffic. If more people rode the bus, it would create faster commutes.
    Can we reorganize our city bus system to make it more efficient? Can we promote new "bus trains" that are run on wheels? Can major bus stops be created, that are far and in between, so these bus trains do not have to make so many stops?
    Small vans could pick people up from surrounding areas of these major bus stops, from places like apartments and private homes? Perhaps through GPS, people could be contacted through their cell phones; whenever these small vans are about to be at people's place of residence or employment. Thus automate this transportation process.
    For those who do not have a cell phone, riders would be contacted on their hard line phones. Riders would be contacted automatically when these vans are just a few minutes from their place of residence or employment.
    Then these vans could transport people to the major bus stations nearby. People could wait inside these vans, parked at the major bus stops, until the large bus trains on wheels pick people up. This way people could avoid the weather elements.
    After people are transported to these large buses. These bus trains on wheels, could reset traffic lights, so to avoid so many stops. Special diamond lanes; would be painted just for these bus trains, to avoid traffic jams.
    In order to maximize efficiency of our city bus system; riders would fill out the following survey. It will ask of where do you live and when do you need to be picked up. Then it would ask of when and where do you need to go? Perhaps it may be your place of employment or even place of your doctor's office. One free ride could be credited to people's account, by filling out this survey.
    For those who do not own a cell phone and/or computer; this survey could be done at current major bus stops and places of employment. A table and a laptop could be set up at these areas to input this information. For those who have access to a computer, future riders could fill in this survey from there. This way, more efficient times could be created based upon this survey.
    If more people rode the bus, it would lesson bottlenecks in traffic. Then it would create faster commutes. It would lesson air pollution and everyone's gas expense. Finally, am I missing something with this logic or do you have something to add to this concept?

    May 8, 2012 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Socrates72

      Pshh gross, nasty people ride the bus... I would hate to ride the bus! never! Public trasportation....ew... ew!

      May 8, 2012 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
    • Socrates72

      Pshh gross, nasty people ride the bus... I would hate to ride the bus! never! Public trasportation....ew!

      May 8, 2012 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      this no the place for reasonable thoughtful helpful responses --IT IS OBMA/ROMNEY'S FAULT

      May 8, 2012 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      Very well put!

      May 8, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
    • iheartyou

      That's a nice concept, David, but one that will probably not work for a lot of people. For example, I live over an hour away from my job. My day begins at 6am, dropping kids off to school, then off to work I go. I often times have off-site meetings during the day. My company does not offer corporate vehicles so I have to take my car. I use my lunch hour to run any errands I have because at 7pm I'm rushing back home to pick up my kids from after school care. Not to mention the occasional (and not so occasional) calls from the school saying my child is sick and to come pick them up. or my own doctor appt's that I try to schedule during lunch or right before work so I can spend more time with my family on the weekends. My spouse's schedule is even worse because of all of the overtime their job requires. I would love to be able to be picked up and dropped off everyday and not have to use my car, but unfortunately I don't have a lifestyle that is conducive to that. Sadly, I think a lot of people find themselves in this same position. There is no simple answer to this. I wish that there were.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • Heather

      While living in a different country, I found that the bus took on average 2 hours to get home. There wasn't an option for driving, since I couldn't get a car and private transportation was not an economical choice. Instead, I got out a small camelback backpack, bought a bike, and I ran to/from work twice a week (9-miles total), and biked the other days. While I realize this isn't the ideal for many, I think there is something to be said for rearranging our lives and making concessions. This study reinforces once again that our country has health issues due to the lack of activity. We as a community of American need to prioritze our health and time with family, over working to live the luxiourous American life.

      May 12, 2012 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
  5. BoyHowdie

    How is this any different than sitting on the couch watching a ball game?

    May 8, 2012 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boyohboy

      well um for one, you can fall asleep watching a ball game....not necessarily while stuck in traffic when people are cutting you off trying to get ahead of you, nearly rear ending you, and remember you have to keep your eyes on the road!

      takes just a little more concentration than watching a ball game buddy

      May 8, 2012 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
    • iheartyou

      And with watching a ball game you can get up and walk around anytime you want. That's kinda' hard to do in a car. You can even walk on a treadmill while watching a ball game. Can't walk on a treadmill while driving, sadly. It's the "being stuck" aspect of the drive that is the problem. You have no options (except to pull over and get out) to move your body or stretch your legs or anything like that.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:41 | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      In terms of being at the gym versus sitting on your behind, they are the same. So yes, level of exercise may be comparable. But the article also stated that driving is linked to higher stress, which in turn affects blood pressure, etc. Watching a game is a pleasant pasttime that is typically relaxing and fun, which is probably not raising your blood pressure on a daily basis.

      May 8, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • kman821

      It's illegal to drink a beer in your car while waiting in traffic and there's no place to take a leak either.

      May 9, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
  6. JoeIndiana

    I recently started a new job that requires me to drive an hour and a half to and from work every day and I think this article has hit the nail on the head. It is simply the fact that I am too (mentally) exhausted from work and the drive when I finally get home to go work out, hike, or play basketbal etc.l.

    May 8, 2012 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Damage, Inc.

      Oh please....

      May 8, 2012 at 08:43 | Report abuse |
    • iheartyou

      You are so right, Joe! People without long commutes don't fully understand the mental toll it can take as well as the physical. Being stuck in traffic, trying to avoid the speed demons and the cell phone talkers and the texters etc etc etc., all after having spent a full 8+ hours mentally focused on your job is VERY exhausting. I feel your pain. :)

      May 8, 2012 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      I concur. I was commuting 1hr 15 min 5 days a week, and I was completely exhausted and cranky when I got home. Not only that, but my back and legs would hurt frequently. Now I do that commute only twice a week and work at home the other three days. I notice I have more energy for everything – cooking, spending time with my spouse, and yes, exercising. The above commenter is right that people who don't do this every day or who don't work a mentally taxing job in between the commute times don't usually appreciate the difficulty. I certainly didn't until I actually went through it myself.

      May 8, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
    • major difference

      Damage is silly, the person that said that your commute is different if you spend time taking a relexing 80 mile drive versus a 40 mile drive with folks cutting you off or driving slow is much different, plus you are assuming that folks have space for exercise equipment. Some equipment takes up space or is very noisy, which can be a problem if you live in an apartment or have a small home. Just because things work for you does not mean that it'll work for everyone else.

      May 8, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  7. Damage, Inc.

    Americans are always looking for excuses about their fatness. It takes me 90 minutes to get from work to the gym, then another 90 until I actually get home after work out, yet I still manage to do it. I also don't see a problem where one fat person couldn't buy an equipment for their home?

    May 8, 2012 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boyohboy

      I agree its no excuse for fatness but depending on your commute, driving 90 minutes is one thing if your commute is 80 miles, if it is 40 miles and you spend 60 minutes in bumper to bumper and 30 driving smoothly its different, it is mentally exhausting from all the idiots on the road that nearly hit you to save a minute on their commute time much more stressful than a 90 minute cruise in your car. I love to drive but I cannot stand my commute because it consists of traffic everyday like I just described

      May 8, 2012 at 08:49 | Report abuse |
    • RickInPA

      boyohboy – what damage inc meant was in terms of negative health consequeces...not doing anything physical. No doubt that with all the sports on tv (and other garbage people watch) the toll is much worse than a long commute: with the fridge nearby for beer, chips & guac, corned beef specials, pizza...all day long

      May 8, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
    • Karl

      Let me guess, you have no other responsibilities in life except yourself. Reality looks a lot different when you have a family, aging parents, and/or a home to look after. In addition, not everyone reacts to commuting the same–some people loathe driving (a huge source of stress and anxiety), while others actually enjoy it.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:11 | Report abuse |
    • Damage, Inc.

      Karl, there's always time to exercise, it only takes about 30 minutes for a fine work out. Like I said, if you're determined and not lazy, there's always time... On the other hand, people should control their eating, the amount of food served in a typical American restaurant is idiotic to say the least.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
    • johnny

      Having to travel a total of 3 hours in my car is one heck of a good excuse to not go to the gym. In fact, I don't know one sane person that would even do that.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Damage, Inc.

      I didn't say three hours in a car, I said 90 minutes.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
    • A

      To everyone complaining, I understand mental exhaustion after a long commute (I feel worn out after mine which is only 20 min and not that terrible), but getting some exercise really doesn't take that much time. Get up a little earlier and go for a run. Have a 30 min romp around the yard with your kids after work. Do a few squats and some stretches before bed. If you don't take the time to take care of yourself, the people that depend on you will also suffer. It's just as important to take care of yourself for the people that depend on you as it is for you.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:50 | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      No, you said 3 hrs. 90 there and 90 back. Do the math again.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
    • nyny99

      I would *love* to have time to fit in a workout. We had to relocate out of the city we work in because of the high cost of living and frozen salaries. We are now dealing with a 2.5 hr commute...each way. We also have an infant. We have high stress, demanding jobs and are lucky if we can take a break just to walk out of the building for lunch. When we get home, we have to go through the process of putting the baby to bed. Then it's about doing everything to prepare for the next day that starts at 5am. By the time we are finished it's between 10 and 11pm. We are lucky if we get between 6-7 hrs worth of sleep assuming the baby actually sleeps through the night (not common). I can feel myself gaining weight and that's still eating healthy (or at least eating healthy when I have time to eat).

      I'm glad that you are able to figure it out. I wish it were that simple for me and my family. There are just not enough hours in the day and I can definitely see the decline as a result. Long commutes does introduce a whole host of problems.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Oh, please...

      Then when you get to your "gym" you sit in the shallow end of the pool flirting with the female lifeguard. Super.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • r schier

      Oh...what a GOOD BOY !

      May 8, 2012 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • iheartyou

      You hit the nail on the head, nyny99. I think it's awesome that some people are able to eek out 30 mins of their day for a work out. Occasionally I'm able to do that as well, just not even close to anything resembling a regular schedule. Our life is more like yours than Damage's. What I find frustrating is the people who have no compassion or understanding for others who may not have the lifestyles they have and be able to do the things they do. Just being able to say "just do it" is fine for some folks but just isn't going to work for others. There is no one size fits all response to this issue. There are extremes – people who do nothing but sit in front of the TV and eat on one end, and people who work out every day and eat nothing but health food on the other. But there are also the people in between. I do believe that taking care of yourself is important and I try very hard to do so, but my children come first in my life and if they need help with homework or I need to make their lunches for the next day, etc. etc. then that will trump a trip to the gym.

      May 8, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      I used to have a long commute 5 days a week and now I only do it 2 days a week and work at home the other three. From my experience, time for exercise is only a small fraction of the issue. The bigger part of the problem is energy to do it. I have significantly more energy to interact with the world on the days I don't commute, whereas the long commute leaves me emotionally and physically exhausted, sometimes headaches, etc. Not to mention that by the time you get home from a long drive, it's already getting late to eat dinner, and then after that, you barely have enough energy to keep going. From having done it both ways, it is 100% clear to me that the commute is a time and energy drain.

      May 8, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      @ "What's your" Damage Inc.

      Here's my day. I get up at 5:00. I take about 15 minutes to pull myself together. I prepare my lunch. I preapre lunch for the kids (unless the school cafeteria has something they are interested). I push my way through 15 minutes of exercise (not much but I try). I spend a luxurious 15 minutes getting cleaned up and dressed for work. I get the kids up and make their breakfast (usually cereal... better than nothing). I head out the door and let my spouse take over from there. At this point, I've been up an hour and 15 minutes. I spend the next hour an 15 minutes getting to work. I get back home from work around 5:30 in the evening. I pick up kids from the sitter (depending on my spouse's schedule), fix dinner and get the family fed. On a good night it's now 6:30. I take 15 – 30 minutes to police the house. Dishes, mail, notes from school. Some nights there are baths to supervise or give. Some nights there is homework to go over. Every night there's something else that will take at least 30 minutes more. At this point it is usually about 7:30 and my bedtime is 9:00 (bad news, as you get older you might not sleep as well, so you have to shoot for 8 hours, realizing you will fall short). so, I'v got a whole hour and ahalf to live my life, deal with whatever the crisis of the day is, try to have a relationship with my wife and kids, and mentally wind down. Clearly you are 20 something, have no kids, or both. Come back when you have responsibilities and a long commute trying to provide for your family and not uproot them.

      May 8, 2012 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    I'm in this situation, as my commute is now a minimum of 40 minutes to about an hour and a half, depending on traffic (Boston area, compared to my previous 20 minute commute). My solution was to get a gym membership near my office. So instead of hitting the road at 5 and sitting in traffic, I go to the gym right after work and when I'm done, there is no more traffic and I just have the normal drive home. It saves a lot of time this way and I still get to the gym for a normal workout.

    Just a thought!

    May 8, 2012 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Damage, Inc.

      Well done, there are always solutions. If you're fat and lazy, you'll most likely always will be fat and lazy. People who are determined to be fit, are fit.

      May 8, 2012 at 08:46 | Report abuse |
    • A

      A very smart solution and thanks for sharing. I did the same, but only during the winter. Now that it is getting warm and pleasant out, it's time for outdoor activities!

      May 8, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • Oh, please...

      As it is 8:45 a.m. as you post, are you goofing off at work or just lying? It's one of the two.

      Signed, retired... workout over.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      One of the challenges to this is when someone has a spouse and/or kids who are expecting them home in time for dinner and quality time. The long commute for many means you barely make it in time for dinner as it is. In a time-crunched family, sometimes you may want to actually exercise together, which you can't do at work. I try to walk outside daily with my husband to at least do something, but it would take a lot away from the small time we have in the evenings if I just came home later because I worked out at the office.

      May 8, 2012 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • major difference

      Commuting does suck, I go a job that pays more money but I have to drive 38 miles in about an hour and 15 minutes traffic. I used to have time to work out but now with a baby on the way, I just can't seem to get over the hump. Almost everyday my wife needs me to pick up something or do something for her. I lover my wife and want to be a good husband but how do I get back on track?

      May 8, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
  9. james

    WOW what a typo "body mass indices" (paragraph five, line three). I'm not sure what a body mass indice is.( It is showing as an error as I write it now). Let us not rely on grammar and spell check and use our on board quantum computers. This is not rocket surgery (to the author). Back to remedial grammar for you friend.

    May 8, 2012 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Q

      Actually, "indices" is the plural form of "index".

      May 8, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brody

      singular = index
      plural = indices
      There is no such word as "Indice"

      May 8, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      HAHAHA – Gotta love it when a smug grammar nazi makes a fool of himself.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
    • dsavio

      Fail grammar cop is fail.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
    • A

      Thanks for the laugh!

      May 8, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • dhartis

      Yes, James, continue to rely on your "board quantum computer" when making your spelling and grammar decisions.

      May 8, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
  10. Jim Brody

    Never understood why people insist on living so far from work. Many of my colleagues drive 45-60 minutes plus one way. My commute is 35 minutes on the BUS! Yes, I pay higher taxes than they do, my house and yard are smaller, but my kids can walk to school, the rec center, the library, stores, etc., and I have pleanty of time at the end of the day to spend with my family. Never understood the suburban mystique!

    May 8, 2012 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PM

      Jim,

      In the Washington DC area, many of the people cannot afford to live in the area they work. Many of them live as far away as Pennsylvania and commute to work. Even with public transportation it could take up to two hours.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
    • mo

      dtto. Totally agree bro. People, City centers are getting cheaper now with the housing crash ongoing. In Miami you can now buy a single family home in the up and coming neighborhood of Wyndwood Design District for $50K!

      May 8, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
    • Oh, please...

      :I pay higher taxes than they do, my house and yard are smaller..." Now maybe you'll "understand". You forgot to mention that the crime rate is higher in the city than the suburbs... another good reason to commute.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • KJC

      At least in the SF Bay Area, in most of the towns where the jobs are, a tiny three bedroom house costs over $1 million. Trust me, I whine about this with my friends all the time, because the $250K house I grew up in in CT would cost $1M here. A 900 sq foot 1 bedroom condo will cost at least $300K, which you just cannot make work with a family. And that is why 1/3 of my department travels at least an hour for work – to live somewhere they can at least pretend to be able to afford as opposed to somewhere they would be drowning in debt. This is somewhat common in other expensive metropolitan areas, as well.

      May 8, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
  11. PM

    I used to have a commute that was upwards of 45 minutes for a 14 mile drive. I was always mentally exhausted at the end of trip home because of it. I would actually need to relax for a while before I could do much else.

    I still kept in good shape but now I can do it more immediately since my commute is now below 5 miles from home. It really does affect you when you have to deal with all these other drivers for a long period of time twice a day.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. asdf

    Used to drive 45-50 mins to work every weekday, now I take the train. It's about the same amount of time and costs the same, but people wonder why I do it. I look up from my book on the quiet morning ride while sipping my coffee and laugh at the people stuck in traffic like ants. The difference in stress is unbelievable.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim Brody

      Exactly! My colleagues thing I am crazy for taking the bus. They have no idea...

      May 8, 2012 at 09:28 | Report abuse |
  13. BostonSteve

    If we remove all the Prius drivers from the road, that would reduce stress levels immeasurably.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Damage, Inc.

      What's wrong with the Prius drivers?

      May 8, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • A

      Or at the very least make them stick in the right lane where they belong. I hate when a Prius driver insists on cruising 5-10 mph under the speed limit in the left lane!

      May 8, 2012 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
    • c s

      A – my experience is that almost everyone on the freeway is exceeding the speed limit if they can. The only time most people obey the speed limit is during a traffic jam. The guys driving the Prius speed just like everyone else.

      May 8, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  14. Prius Crusher

    You have seen the South Park episode on Smug Prius drivers. Plus, Prius drivers insist on driving in the left lanes of traffic at 5 miles per hour below the speed limit.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • c s

      The one time that I rode in a Prius, the guy definitely was driving it above the speed limit. My experience is about 99% of drivers exceed the speed limit if they can and drive under the limit only during a traffic jam. During a traffic jam, it does not matter if you are driving a Prius or Ferrari, you will be under the speed limit.

      May 8, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  15. Damage, Inc.

    One of the reasons why I love to hop the pond to Europe is amount of eye candy in the streets. 8 out of 10 women in the streets is fit, not necessarily good looking but fit, while the same ratio in the States is the opposite. Disgusting.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A

      You should move to Colorado then. Our ratio is 8 out of 10 are fit, easily, if not a little higher.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:55 | Report abuse |
    • Oh, please...

      You really want this type in Colorado? I don't THINK so.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • priorities

      Personally, I'd take not-so-fit over shallow any day..

      May 8, 2012 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
  16. BostonSteve

    Prius drivers are typically liberals who really have no clue how society operates. They drive in a dangerous manner, slow and scared, creating road rage for those driving behind them.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Damage, Inc.

      This has got to be the stupidest thing I've read all morning.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • BostonSteve

      It's actually factual.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • A

      I'm a raging liberal and I drive a Ford at 5-10 mph over the speed limit, and I know if I'm not passing anyone I should get myself back in the right lane. I agree about most prius drivers, but "liberal" isn't a dirty word, sorry.

      May 8, 2012 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • c s

      Prius drivers know how society works: it always about the MONEY. They just choose to conserve their money by buying less gas. Spending more money on gasoline does not necessary make you smarter unless you like spending money. I do not have a Prius but when the used ones become more affordable, then I will get one. Having ridden one, they go plenty fast and will keep up with traffic without a problem.

      May 8, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
  17. tannim

    DFW and Austin? Minor leagues. Try LA, where it takes up to 3 hours to do what should be a 1-hour drive!

    May 8, 2012 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oh, please...

      DFW, Austin, LA... whatever. It all depends on the time of day. Schedule your commute properly and your problems will disappear.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • iheartyou

      Awesome idea, ohplease. I will tell my boss that I can't be to work until 1pm because I have to "schedule my commute properly" and 1pm is really the only time that traffic isn't complete hell in L.A. I'm sure he'll love that.

      May 8, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
  18. Sunshine

    Urban sprawl leads to rear end spread. LOL
    It took scientists research to figure this out. This is truly a no brainer. When you spend hours sitting in a car commuting (through a freeway parking lot), the last thing you want to do is get back in your car and stand in line at the gym (a human parking lot) waiting to use the treadmill.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Frustrated

    I live in Houston...hour and a half to get 20 miles on a good day. Turns my 9 hour day into a 12 hour day. And I think most people can agree that Texan drivers are aggressive and just plain stupid in their driving. Definitely keeps the blood pressure up.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Damage, Inc.

    Tax the FAT!!!!

    May 8, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oh, please...

      If they taxed stupidity you'd be bankrupt in no time flat.

      May 8, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • Damage, Inc.

      Suck it fat and ugly.

      May 8, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
  21. Moby49

    I am sure most companies would be happy to give workers time to exercise or more flexible work hours. Its called a layoff!1

    May 8, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Victor

    For anybody who has never taken public transit to work and enjoyed the ease of sitting back and leaving the driving to others, let me tell you, there is no surprise that fighting your way to work every morning in a little metal cube is damaging to your health and your quality of life. It not only raises your stress, but it also seperates you from other people. We are a communal species and we need to connect...sitting alone for hours on end fighting with others runs contrary to our natual instincts...and yet...we build more and more roads when we could be building railroads and bus lines like they do in most all other parts of the civilized world. I am not trying to change anybody's mind, but I can tell you that pubic transport is the way to go!

    May 8, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Praveen

      deeply impressed. Around the same time I got my first swlriy tattoo, and I started noticing all the swlriy metal gates, doors and windows in San Francisco. Even the gate and stair railing at my building have metal swirls, but I had never noticed them

      September 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse |
  23. Josie Behnke

    In a city I prefer the bus....tend to get to where I am going with a lot less stress. I live in a small town and it's amazing when it comes to not dealing with traffic...well when the college isn't in that is,

    May 8, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Rob

    "One discovery that Hoehner found a little surprising was how “being exposed to the daily hassles of traffic can lead to higher chronic stress and higher blood pressure.”
    Are you kidding? You needed a study to determine that? Who paid for this study? I need to contact them to get work for useless studies.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • c s

      Got to college and get a PhD first. Then you too can study problems in our society and maybe find solutions.

      May 8, 2012 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  25. Andrew

    I ride my bike five miles to work. It started out taking me 50 minutes now it takes no longer than 35. I save gas money and gym money and the time it would take to drive to the gym, workout for an hour and drive back. I wish more people cycled to work. It really is beneficial.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • major difference

      Does your job have showers? I would like to ride my bike but I would hate to offend co-workers with my sweaty smell

      May 8, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
    • Mr Marco Slagman

      1/2 hr one way commute amounts to a 2 week vacation a year. If you live less than 6 miles to work why not ride a bike?

      May 9, 2012 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
  26. nsmolens

    Its all what you make of it. I graduated in December 2010 and after months of searching, I was finally offered a job 70 miles away from my house. I drive through Baltimore and DC suburb traffic for 2.50-3.50 hrs a day. My family, friends and co-workers think I am crazy, but I will chose a hellish commute over being another unemployed college grad any day. A year later and I am still in good health and fitness. Yes, I am very young, but I refuse to let my commute give me an excuse to become "fat and lazy". I am not making an executive salary by any means, but I see my time spent now as an investment towards my future career. Suck it up, and be glad you have a job.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. AllYourBase

    Every time I see one of these studies come out, it just furthers my theory that literally everything causes cancer. Some more so than others, but in the end everything causes cancer.

    May 8, 2012 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. soulCatcher

    It's probably the side "benefits" of a long commute that are killing you:
    Blood clots from not moving for a long time, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, smog, dust, noise, probably are the true causes for all the health problems- you'd have that even with slight traffic.

    May 8, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. rich

    When can we stop this 'busy work' journalism and get down to talking about what really matters?

    May 8, 2012 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Teri

    I weighed far less and had far less stress when commuting 4 hours per day than I do now commuting an hour. But, I have a strict no eating in the car rule. For people who swing through the drive-thru window and eat in their cars, I can see how they could experience weight gain. I have never had a commute shorter than an hour per day and have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to live close enough to work to come home for lunch. So, I pretty much don't eat lunch. Would probably weigh even more if I lived closer to home and could come home at lunch time.

    May 8, 2012 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
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  33. Bob Hobbs

    For 19 years I had a long commute: from Hartford to New Haven (Yale).
    I rode a commuter bus daily. I handled the long periods of inactivity
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    I'm 68 now, and in good health.
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    It was a long commute (43 miles), but I made the best of it.

    May 9, 2012 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Tom

    Well, perhaps if you people would abstain from gawking at flashing police lights or cars sitting on the side of the road, then your commutes would be a bit shorter. Instead of getting home at the end of the day, you choose to spend your time rubbernecking out on the highway.

    May 9, 2012 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. short drive

    I used to commute 2 hrs each way to work. It was mentally physically and emotionally draining. I looked at carpools, trains and busses. Unfortunately there were no viable alternatives. Overall it was not worth the paycheck. I now commute 4.5 miles to work and ride my bike to the office when the weather allows.
    No, there is nothing new in this study. However, if it enlightens employers ever so slightly and expands the work at home options for some then it was for a good cause. Other than that it's just a slam-dunk study.

    May 9, 2012 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. columbus

    It's easy for some to say, "suck it up", you do a two hour commute for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years or more. It takes a lot out of you when your putting in 8- 10 hours a day and commuting 4 hours a day. It is a job, which many people would covet, but it also has a high price on your health and personal life.

    May 9, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Ada,

    you don't say...

    May 9, 2012 at 12:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Daniel

    Walking during breaks? In most places taking a break is no longer allowed. If you leave for lunch you get the look or questions as to where you were. Further, trying to close your door while eating will automatically trigger a boss opening it for a random question and leaving it open.

    The message is clear. No more breaks. No more out of office lunches. Your lunch is to be eaten while working and your "break" is them allowing you to go to the bathroom. Welcome to the new America.

    May 9, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. smrk

    My commute is 1hr each way on the train with one transfer, and I'd guess its just as painful as driving would be. Dealing with smelly old cars with poor ventilation, glaring lights, overcrowding, noisy brakes, disruptive announcements, equipment failures ... and the price keeps going up. By the time I get to where I'm going I'm exhausted – and broke – and motivated to figure out how to work from home. Visit http://www.unsuckmetro.com for more information.

    May 9, 2012 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Kensi

    If I had to do it over again, I would have chosen to live in downtown, closer to where I work. Because of the 26 mile each way commute and the horrific traffic that comes with rush hour, I have to work the early shift. But, to echo another poster's thoughts, after a full day at work and the long commute home, I've absolutely no energy to exercise and I just can't get up at 3:30 am to exercise. The only times I was successful in exercising regularly was when I worked a later shift (and suffered through a daily 2+hour commute) and had time to hit the treadmill in the morning and 15 years ago when I worked "banker's hours" and was younger. My advice to young people is to sacrifice square footage and a yard for living close to where you work.

    May 9, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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  46. Mazharul

    "I turned down that job becusae some random stalker on the internet told me to." Hmmmm.Pro/Con lists are *so* the way to go.Take the job...you could commit yourself for one year and then use your husband's school as a reason to quit. At least you tried and gained the experience.Take the job...Everything and anything looks good on a resume and helps you grow as a personTake the job...Money/insurance/security and a wonderful assurance that you are providing for your family. (I kinda like being a sugar mamma, becusae this is the only time in our life that this will be the case)Take the job...books on tape are a wonderful way to pass the car time. Also the commute will be a great time to think about design/life/loveTake the job...and do something fun/creative with the extra money you will have.Don't take the jobother jobs will come alongDon't take the jobbecusae you don't HAVE to work right now, and it's a wonderful time to enjoy lifeDon't take the joband stay home and make babies (I know you want to!)Don't take the joband know you made the decision based on what was right for you and your family at the time.Good luck! I know these choices are hard and it might be the first but won't be the last.Cheers!

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.