Will your long commute to work kill you?

Commuting in Dallas.

Google Maps says my commute to work is 18 miles.

It seems like a lot more some days. That, says a recent Texas study, potentially could kill me – literally. And if you commute any more than 10 miles to work, it could kill you, too.

The study of 4,297 Texans said, simply, the further you commute to work, the less likely you are to exercise, the lower your physical fitness, the larger your waistline and the higher your body mass index (weight relative to height), blood pressure and metabolic risk.

Indeed, I’m pretty sure I can feel my blood pressure rise every time I get into my car for the commute. Considering the study results, that probably is not an uncommon reaction.

Richard Read writing for The Car Connection cited additional problems: “A different Swedish study carried out by Erik Hansson of Lund University revealed that the farther a worker lives from her place of employment, the greater chance she has of suffering from exhaustion, lack of sleep, and sickness. A U.S. study of commuters on the Long Island Rail Road yielded similar results.”

“The [Texas] study examined the effects of a lengthy commute on health over the course of seven years,” wrote Jane E. Brody in The New York Times. “It revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol. The researchers also linked long driving commutes to a greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation, all of which can impair the quality and length of life.”

Brody points out that a family can put even more miles on their cars – and stressful time in the car – driving to and from play dates, school or school activities and other organized activities, suggesting that even stay-at-home moms and dads are not immune from the health risks.

Meanwhile, a survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Telenav (navigation systems) among 2,034 adults, also reported by The Car Connection, said 99 percent of all drivers are frustrated by other drivers.

“Yet most [drivers] went on to report plenty of dangerous behaviors of their own – including things like eating, applying makeup, or reading behind the wheel,” the report said. Tailgating (69 percent) and phone use (65 percent) led the reasons respondents were frustrated with other drivers.

Now that’s a chicken-and-egg conundrum if I ever saw one.

Despite all of that, Read finds a silver lining to these issues, essentially saying, don’t blame the car.

“On the ‘praise’ side, the benefits of motor vehicles are easy to see,” he writes. “They’ve allowed us to travel far and wide in search of better jobs and better lives. They’ve allowed us to haul stuff around … Perhaps most importantly, they bring pizza right to our door.”

And isn’t that exactly what we need – more pizza after a long, hard commute?

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