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Adverse physical, mental health effects linked to long commutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — A new study shows that a lengthy commute can be hazardous to health.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, looked at how automobile travel affected overall health and activity over the course of seven years. They found that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, 5 days a week can put individuals at risk for high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

For commuters, the longer the drive, the less they exercised and the lower their heart fitness. Meanwhile, their body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure increased.

"Instead of having an 8-hour work day, you have a 10-hour work day, so that's stressful," said Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute M.D. Brent Muhlestein. "It might be stressful because there's road rage out on the street."

Commuting 15 miles and higher rates of obesity corresponded, too.

"Sometimes you sacrifice time you should be taking for yourself, you don't take care of yourself because you are commuting," said Marshall Russell, who commutes to work.

"One thing that I think that we have to remember is, if you're going to commute and you want to be healthy and happy for a long time, you have to adjust your life so that you still get exercise in," Muhlestein said.

In addition to the physical effects, are mental health effects related to commuter stress. The study linked depression, anxiety, and social isolation to long commutes.


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Carole Mikita


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