Long Commute times affects Your Health

article by Sandra Trentino
June 26, 2019
Ooma reports that the average American now spends 26 minutes commuting each day. Apparently, this is the longest the average commute time has been since 1980. While commuting may seem like a harmless necessity, professionals say it can be detrimental to mental health, overall well-being and work productivity.

A study, developed by Vitality Health, the University of Cambridge, and RAND Europe and Mercer, examined the impact of commuting for work. The study, consisting of more than 30,000 UK workers, found that commuting had a negative impact on mental welfare and work efficiency.

Those who commuted to work in less than 30 minutes gained more than a week’s worth of productive time compared to those with longer commutes. Longer commuting workers were also 33% more likely to experience depression, 37% more likely to worry about finances and 12% more likely to experience work-related stress. They were also 46% less likely to get sufficient amounts of sleep and 21% more likely to be obese.

“Time security is a significant cause of stress and unhealthy behavior across UK employees,” said Mercer Partner Chris Bailey. “A number of factors combine to create time scarcity, but career responsibilities and increased commuting time at peak hours due to lack of availability of affordable housing close to work places, are key issues. Employers can positively impact their employees’ lives by looking at working policies and financial wellness programmes to support those that are juggling multiple commitments.”

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Researchers also discovered that those able to work flexibly were less likely to be depressed or stressed and gained more than five productive days each year.  As a matter of fact, more than half of the questioned telecommuters said they wanted to increase the number of hours they worked remotely.

Vitality Health Director Shaun Subel said: “Allowing employees the flexibility to avoid the rush-hour commute where possible, or fit their routine around other commitments can help reduce stress and promote healthier lifestyle choices and importantly, this is shown to actively impact positively on productivity.”

Commuters may also have different experiences depending on their occupation. Workers in finance, computer science, and business face longer commute times than their education, military and personal care counterparts. Location also plays a part due to differences in rural and urban areas. When it comes to commuting times, it’s no surprise that New York, Long Island and Washington, D.C. top the list.