The "Live Healthy" Journal

Better Living Through Nature

Long Commute Linked to Hypertension

on May 8, 2012

Lately we’ve been talking a lot about your morning, and evening commute to work. It’s rough, right? It’s stressful, it’s time consuming, it’s boring, and it kills your back. On top of all of that, new research is now showing that your daily commute could be the reason behind your high blood pressure and could possibly increase your risk for heart disease.


The Long Commute and Heart Health

Recent studies conducted simultaneously in Sweden and the U.S. are pointing to how dangerous for your heart being stuck in traffic is. In fact, in the recent Swedish study, results showed how important it is to ride your bike or walk to work, something that not many Americans get the opportunity to do.


However, the U.S. study, conducted in three Texas cities, linked high blood pressure, obesity and other health problems to a long daily commute.


“Long commutes really get under the skin in terms of affecting people’s health,” says lead author Christine Hoehner, an assistant professor of public health sciences at Washington University, in St. Louis. Read more:


According to the study, those who sat in traffic for longer commutes were less physically active, either because they were too stressed to participate in activities, or they just didn’t have time. Either way, those who sit in traffic every day are clinically proven to be at higher risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease.


Seventy-six percent of people who worked within five miles of their home averaged at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day (as federal health officials recommend), compared to just 70% of those whose commute exceeded 30 miles round-trip.

Those who have a daily commute of just 20 miles round-trip were found to have an increased risk of elevated blood pressure, or pre-hypertension. That’s only 10 miles each way!


When taking a closer look at the data, researchers found two things; increased obesity and risk for obesity-related disease was more in relation to the lack of exercise from long commutes, and high blood pressure was simply from sitting in traffic, which is something we all do every day.


Researchers still are unclear as to why sitting in traffic can elevate a person’s blood pressure to dangerous levels. Whether it’s the fast food people tend to eat while commuting, the stress of sitting in traffic, or lack of sleep as longer commutes mean getting up earlier, your heart health can literally depend on your commute.





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