Picture it. It’s almost 5pm and you’re all ready to pack up your desk and head to the gym near your house or go for a quick run with your girls. But after taking the hour long train ride home or getting caught in rush hour traffic you are drained and working out is the last thing on your mind. Moments like that one are not uncommon among Americans and new research shows that long commutes are negatively affecting our workout time and other healthy living habits.
Brown University researchers found that spending at least an hour every day commuting means that the average person gets 30.6 percent less time for sleep, 16.1 percent less time for exercise, 5.8 percent less time to eat with the family and 4.1 percent less time to prepare food — all healthy behaviors. Overall, “spending an additional 60 min daily commuting above average is associated with a 6 percent decrease in aggregate health-related activities and spending an additional 120 min is associated with a 12 percent decrease,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Urban Health study.
According to the study’s researchers:
“People should recognize that long commutes may siphon time that could otherwise be spent on healthy activities, potentially [leading to] adverse health impacts. Where possible, they might consider coping strategies to save time such as telecommuting, active commuting modes (walking or cycling), or even parking a bit farther away from their destination in order to walk for some additional physical activity.”
While researchers aren’t exactly sure that having a shorter commute would encourage people to use the extra time to focus on their health, they are right in their assumptions that the long commutes don’t help. To avoid falling into the trap, people should find places to work out close to where they work, preferably somewhere within walking distance. This way, you won’t be too tired after that long commute home to work out and you can replace what would’ve been workout time, with healthy cooking time. The more you can do to keep health first regardless of your commute time, the better and healthier your life will be.
Do you think your commute is taking away from healthy activities?