We hear a lot about how sitting at your desk all day or mindlessly snacking at work are wreaking havoc on your health, but it turns out that the unhealthiest part of your workday could be before you even get to the office. Yes—whether you're driving or taking public transportation—your morning commute could be negatively affecting your health. Beyond the inherent road rage or the dehumanizing experience of being sardined into a subway car at 8:30 a.m., your morning trip into the office could be harming your well-being in much more alarming ways.
A new study finds that long commutes (approximately 60 minutes or more) can have a significant impact on your mental health.
The study, led by the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe, Mercer, and VitalityHealth, and highlighted in Independent, examined over 34,000 British employees across all industries. Researchers found that workers with longer commutes were 33% more likely to suffer from depression, 40% more likely to have financial worries, and 12% more likely to report issues due to work-related stress. Stemming from this high-stress lifestyle, these workers were also 21% more likely to be obese and also more likely to get less than seven hours of sleep each night.
"Beyond looking at ways that the work environment can be altered to make it more conducive to improved health and well-being, our research suggests that employers should perhaps be looking at flexible working arrangements as a more prominent part of their workplace wellness or productivity management strategy," explained Shaun Subel, director of strategy at VitalityHealth. "Allowing employees the flexibility to avoid the rush hour commute where possible or fit their routine around other commitments can help reduce stress and promote healthier lifestyle choices, and this is shown to impact positively on productivity." We can all get on board with that.
In the meantime, discover six beauty and wellness podcasts to make your commute less painful.