A study has suggested that commuting to work via car or public transport could be bad for your health. Those who used a car, bus or train as their main way of getting to work suffered more stress, greater sickness absence and poorer sleep than those who walked or cycled.
The research was based on the results from a public health survey of 21,000 full-time workers, aged between 18 and 65, in southern Sweden.
Erik Hanssen, of Lund University, said: “Generally, car and public transport users sufferes more everyday stress, poorer sleep quality, exhaustion and, on a seven point scale, felt that they struggled with their health compared with active commuters. The negative health of public transport users increased with the journey time.”
The study, however, couldn’t prove that commuting was itself the cause of ill health. The authors emphasised that this was because it was only a snapshot in time, and there were numerous variables at play. They tried to account for the fact that people who commuted in different ways were likely to be drawn from different backgrounds, but the academics conceded that this could be a factor in health differences.
For example, those who commuted by car for over an hour reported greater health than those whose drives lasted for 30-60 minutes, a finding which seemed to be at odds with the other results. However, Mr Hanssen said of the longer distance commuters: “It could be that these drivers tended to be men, and high-income earners, who travelled in from rural areas, a group that generally consider themselves in good health.”
Written exclusively for The Life Dept | Live Longer | 31 October 2011.
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