Posted on May 30, 2012, 6 a.m.
The longer you drive to work, the more likely you are to be overweight and have high blood pressure.
As the proportion of Americans living in the suburbs increases, so does average commuting distances and time by private vehicle, which increase time spent in sedentary behavior. Christine M. Hoehner, from Washington University (Missouri, USA), and colleagues studied 4,297 residents who lived and worked in eleven counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Austin, Texas (USA) metropolitan areas. Commuting distances were measured as the shortest distance from home to work along the road network. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), body mass index (BMI), and metabolic risk variables including waist circumference, fasting triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and blood pressure, were measured. Self-reported participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity over the previous three months was also assessed. The researchers found that people who drove longer distances to work reported less frequent participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity and decreased CRF, and had greater BMI, waist circumference, and blood pressure. Those who commuted more than 15 miles to work were less likely to meet recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity, and had a higher likelihood of obesity. Further, commuting distances greater than 10 miles were associated with high blood pressure. Suggesting that commuting by automobile represents only one of many forms of sedentary behavior, the study authors conclude that: “Commuting distance was adversely associated with physical activity, [cardiorespiratory fitness], adiposity, and indicators of metabolic risk.”
Christine M. Hoehner, Carolyn E. Barlow, Peg Allen, Mario Schootman. “Commuting Distance, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Metabolic Risk.” Am J Preventative Medicine, June 2012, Vol. 42, No. 6.