Long commutes can be dangerous to your health.
People who drive 50 or more miles a day — and or an hour-plus — to and from work have a higher risk of health problems than those with shorter commutes, a recent study found. That means higher costs for your health plan.
1. Higher rates of obesity
Left to their own devices, people with long daily commutes tend to exercise less — often they have less free time and want to spend it with loved ones, not working out.
They are also more likely to fall into bad dietary habits — think drive-through breakfasts and coffee shop fare.
2. The ravages of stress
For many of these folks, the most stressful part of their day isn’t what happens at work — it’s hurrying to beat rush-hour traffic to get to work on time and pick up their kids from after-school activities.
Also, according to the study, the average rush hour commuter’s blood pressure and heart rate are higher than that of a fighter pilot heading into combat.
3. ‘Commuter’s amnesia’
People’s brains develop a coping mechanism for handling the stress — the scientific term for it is “commuter’s amnesia.”
Ever driven somewhere and, upon arrival, had no recollection of the drive? You’ve experienced it.
And when someone’s mind regularly goes into shut-down mode like that, its can affect things like workday productivity and safety. That’s especially true for those with poor sleeping habits.
Far and away, companies with widely used wellness programs are the best equipped to minimize the toll long commutes have on employees’ health.
Telecommuting programs and flex-time are other proven ways to cut the risk.