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University warns long commutes may pose health risk

May 9, 2012

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San Diego – Long-distance commutes to work may contribute to poor health, finds a new study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers measured commuting distances and various health indicators for 4,297 residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, TX, areas and found those who drove longer distances to work spent less time in vigorous physical activity and had lower cardiorespiratory fitness.

Commuting more than 10 miles was linked to high blood pressure, and workers who commuted more than 15 miles were less likely to meet exercise guidelines and more likely to be obese, according to a press release from the University of California, San Diego, which published the research.

Researchers speculated that commuting time may replace physical activity and lead to an overall drop in energy expenditure. Additionally, workers with long commutes may experience stress due to traffic.

Commuting is a form of sedentary behavior, which previous studies have linked to health risks such as heart disease.

The study was published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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