It’s official and just as we always thought : Spending hours per day behind the wheel or crammed in a public train or bus, commuting to and from work proves to be bad for your health.

Researchers from Lund University in Sweden gathered data from 21,000 workers of all age groups from 18 to 65, and found that those who commuted by car or public transit reported more everyday stress, exhaustion, missed work days and generally poorer health.

The studies author Erik Hansson clarified:

“More research needs to be done to identify how exactly commuting is related to the ill health we observed in order to readdress the balance between economic needs, health, and the costs of working days lost.”

The study does not specifically link commuting to poorer health; it’s more a question of the stress, uncertainty and over tiredness from extra travel that adds to the daily grind, and certainly it should be possible to counter any negative effects by learning to deal with the stress or finding better ways to commute. This was exemplified by those with longer commutes reporting worse health.

Dr. Redford Williams, professor of medicine and director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University pointed out that if we are taking a train or stuck in traffic its largely out of our control, so is it really worth becoming stressed over ? :

“If you miss a train, ask yourself: is it important? Is it appropriate for me to be worried? Is the situation modifiable?

Commuting has also been linked to marriage problems, but with the economy downbeat, money issues are another source of stress for many couples so it may not be appropriate to be fussy about an extra half hour getting to and from work.

Williams concluded :

“Obviously you have to weigh all of the factors involved ….Probably anyone without a job would be well advised to take one wherever it was. But if you had a choice, you’d probably want to take the one with the shorter commute.”

Overall the study concurred with a few previous studies that also related health issues to commuting to work. Society obviously needs to find ways to resolve its daily stresses and also find better ways to make its workforce more mobile where necessary.

Written by Rupert Shepherd