Whether your commute is a long, tiring car drive or a train journey with delays and cramped carriages, the rush to work is never fun. And now a report has suggested it might even have a detrimental impact on our health.
Research commissioned by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) revealed commuting to work by rail, bus or car is associated with higher blood pressure, stress and an increased body mass index (BMI). In turn, this limits a commuter's opportunity to get involved in healthy activities, such as exercise or a good night's sleep.
Research commissioned by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) revealed commuting to work The study also discovered that the stresses and inconvenience of commuting often lures us in to unhealthy eating patterns. In particular, the average UK commuter consumes nearly 800 additional calories every week while travelling to and from work.
A third of the 1,500 workers studied said they snack more because of the travel. Popular unhealthy snacks included chocolate bars, crisps, fizzy drinks, fast food meals, muffins and alcohol. Because of the limit to the list of unhealthy foods available to participants in the study, researchers admit that calorie intake could potentially be higher than the one they found.
The report also highlights that the average time spent commuting in the UK has increased in recent years and now sits at about an hour a day – 55 minutes, according to the TUC. Worryingly, longer commutes were highlighted by the study as 'potentially shortening lives.' Around 3 million people have journeys of two hours or more a day, according to a TUC study. While 900,000 unlucky people have commutes of 3+ hours.
RSPH Chief Executive Shirley Cramer said:
"For some of us the daily commute can be a pleasurable experience, giving time for reflection or an opportunity to relax, but for an increasing number of us it is having a damaging effect on our health and wellbeing.... As the length of our commute increases this impact is getting worse, including by contributing to rising levels of stress, adding to our waistlines, or eating into time we could otherwise spend doing activities which enhance our health and well-being such as sleep, exercise or time spent with friends or family."
The charity suggests cycling to work, flexible hours or working from home could help.