Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Long commutes by car may be unhealthy

May 8, 2012 - 10:07 AM
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(Photo: flickr/indydinawithmrwonderful)

Surprise surprise. If you spend a long time driving to and from work every day, you may end up less healthy as a result of being less active. One emerging health fear of recent years concerns sitting ourselves to death, and our commutes are a part of this sedentary pattern. A study published in the June issue of American Journal of Preventative Medicine found greater commuting distances by car are associated with "decreased cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), increased weight, and other indicators of metabolic risk," based on a review of 4,300 commuters in Texas. Bummer.

Drive more than 10 miles, worry about higher blood pressure. Higher than 15? There's a higher likelihood of obesity.

D.C. is infamous for its gridlock, and plenty of commuters spend countless minutes trapped in traffic. Even a relatively short commute of two or three miles can take far longer than it should if it's through the core of the District — and may have, consequently, some of the same adverse effects of longer commutes of greater physical distance. The Texas Transportation Institute ranked D.C. as the most congested city in America last fall, with an average of 74 hours a year lost to the road.

Luckily D.C. affords the opportunity for walking, biking, and transit, modes of commuting which may come with fewer harmful health effects. As The Atlantic Cities wrote, long commutes are "easy to loathe" as it is. Now we have even better reasons.

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