Workers With Long Commutes More Likely To Have Sleep Problems And No Exercise

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  • People with full-time jobs who have long commutes are more likely to have sleep problems and sedentary lifestyles
  • Those with longer work hours and long commutes also tend to be overweight than those who traveled less
  • People may be too tired to be physically active after a long commute and day at work

Traffic congestion particularly in big cities means long commutes. Findings of a new study now reveals how this impacts people’s health.

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Jaana Halonen, from Stockholm University and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and colleagues surveyed more than 22,000 working-age adults about their work and commute hours.

They also asked the participants how much they drank, sm0ked, exercised and slept and determined the participants’ body mass index based on their height and weight.

Halonen and colleagues found that people with full-time jobs who have long commutes are more likely to have sleep problems and sedentary lifestyles compared with their counterparts who work closer to home.

The researchers found that in people who normally work less than 40 hours a week, commuting does not appear to influence their health behaviors.

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In individuals who work more than 40 hours per week, however, commuting more than a half hour per way to work was associated with a 25 percent higher odds of a sedentary lifestyle and 16 percent increased risk of sleep problems. Those with longer work hours and long commutes also tend to be overweight than those who traveled less although the difference was too small.

Halonen said that sleep problems may arise from lack of time for stress-busting activities and relaxation, and people may be too tired to be physically active after a long commute and day at work.

The findings of the study highlight the effect of jobs with long commutes on peoples’ health.

“Our findings suggest that lengthy commuting time increases the risk of physical inactivity and sleep problems if individuals have longer than normal weekly working hours,” the researchers wrote in their study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine on Dec. 13.

“Effects of work arrangements that decrease commuting time should be examined in relation to health behaviours.”