Commuting is a way of life in the United States, and it looks different for different people. Some may bike, walk or rollerblade to work. Others take public transportation such as buses and subways. Meanwhile, many commuters drive, and much of the time, they are alone.
It is well-known that sitting for long stretches of time is not ideal for your body. For instance, trucking companies encourage their drivers to take frequent walk breaks and to move their bodies in various ways when they drive. However, if your commute is about 25 minutes each way, is sitting really that for your body? There have been reports that it can lead to increases in cholesterol, blood sugar, anxiety, depression and blood pressure, among other issues, but are these claims overblown?
Some people love commuting
Some people adore their commutes. They may embrace the opportunity to have alone time, and they use that time to daydream, enjoy quiet time, listen to audiobooks or chat on the phone. They may exercise before or after work to make up for the time they spend sitting throughout the day. In fact, they may even seek out work that requires, say, a 20-minute commute compared with a five-minute commute because of the benefits of being able to sit and do nothing.
These folks, however, are at increased risk of physical injury and causing accidents if they drive distracted. Cellphone chatting, daydreaming and listening to audiobooks are all examples of distractions.
The health risks of hating your commute are serious
If you are the sort of person who hates your commute (or your job), the health risks can be even more serious. For example, anxiety is one reason that commutes can be hazardous to a person’s health. It is no fun to get into your car or on the bus and have no idea if you will be at work in 30 minutes if traffic is good or in two hours if it is bad. Plus, what kind of trucks will be on the road today? What kind of mood will your boss be in?
In the end, commuting in itself is probably not ideal for your body, whether you like or hate the time it takes. However, the alternative – not having a job or scrambling to do odd jobs closer to home – can lead to even more stress and issues than your commute causes. So, commuting to a good job tends to be worth it; just remember to take care of yourself physically if you can and to drive safely.