Working a nine-to-fiver is mandatory for most people, and unfortunately, a long commute often comes with the territory. According to a study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, those who travel 16 or more miles each way weigh more and have higher blood pressures than those with less than 10-mile commutes.
Of the almost 4,300 residents from Dallas and Austin involved in the study, researchers discovered that for every 10-mile increase in driving distance, the commuter's BMI (body mass index) rose .17 units. People with lengthy commutes are nine percent more likely to be obese, either because they didn't exercise as much, are eating fast food while driving, or they're not getting enough sleep because their long commute forces them to wake up early.
Weight isn't the only thing affected by a long drive to work. Spending that much time in the car, especially stuck in traffic, also makes a person tired, moody, and stressed out, which is one reason 52 percent of those in the study with a longer commute suffered from high blood pressure.
So what's a commuter to do? Quitting your job is obviously not an option, and if working at home part-time isn't feasible and neither is finding a job closer to where you live, keep reading to learn what commuters can do to avoid weight gain and other health issues.
- Make time to move: With an extra hour or two stuck in the car, it may be tough to exercise before or after work, so set aside 30 to 60 minutes during your day to hit the gym. Make it a priority just as you would any other scheduled appointment. Follow our time-saving tips for a lunchtime workout.
- Get enough Zs: Not getting enough sleep is linked to weight gain, so if you know you have to get up early to hop in the car, be sure to hit the hay early enough to get at least seven to eight hours of shut-eye. Here are some tips on how to get quality sleep.
- Eat a healthy breakfast: Sitting down to a wholesome breakfast before heading to your job may not be possible, so bring your breakfast along. Prepare it the night before, either something you can grab and go like a breakfast burrito, or if you prefer eating at work, pack a Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and cereal to enjoy at your desk. Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism, which can help prevent weight gain. Here are some healthy breakfasts you can make the night before.
- Get creative with your commute: Carpooling can make commutes less stressful, so find some co-workers that live near you who'd be interested in sharing the ride. Public transportation is also a great option — you can relax on your way to work by reading the paper or even get a head start on the day's tasks.
- Energize on the way: Depending on how much time you have to spend in the car, you might actually look forward to your commute if you have a new CD or audiobook to listen to, a fellow commuting friend you can chat with on the way, or if you're not the one driving, try meditating so you arrive at work feeling happy and refreshed.