For many people in Hampton Roads, commuting is a fact of life. But according to recent research, a long commute could be bad for your health: the more time you spend commuting, the less likely you are to exercise. Commuters weigh more, carry more belly fat, and have higher blood pressure.
This can be interpreted a few ways: One, spending extra time behind the wheel cuts into time that you could spend exercising. Two, if you’re stuck in stop-and-go traffic, it’s likely to be stressful. Between the increased stress and the time spent sitting down (both of which have been scientifically linked to negative health consequences), it’s a recipe for disaster. But you can make some adjustments to reduce the impact of your commute on your health.
If relocating to a closer location or office is an option for you, try talking to your boss or human resources contact to look into transferring. If you’re job hunting, try to take commute distance into account. But even if you can’t change where you work, there are still other options to increase your activity and reduce your stress.
Try leaving early enough to beat traffic and make a stop at the gym or go for a walk before work, or do the same after work while waiting for traffic to ease up. Running some errands during this time may be a good choice so that you’ll have less to do when you get home. You may also be able to talk to your boss about staggering or changing your hours so that you are able to arrive later or leave earlier. If you live and work in a bike-friendly or pedestrian-friendly area, walking or riding your bike to work could be a great way to exercise while commuting.
If none of these options work for you, use your commute time to de-stress. Try listening to audio books that will keep you engaged and entertained, or choose some music that puts you in a good mood. It’s also a great time to call a friend or family member to catch up.