Length and time are crucial: when commuting becomes a health risk


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For many, the end of the pandemic means that the time to work from home is over. You drive to work regularly again. But that affects health. Researchers are now showing how and from what distance with current research results.

A research team from Stockholm University has found that there may be a link between commuting to work and negative health behaviors and effects. According to the researchers, the probability of being overweight, having little physical activity and having problems sleeping increases with a commute of three kilometers or more Sciencealert quoted. Well, if it’s obviously too long for the bike for many Swedes.

For the study, the team led by psychologist Jaana Halonen evaluated data from more than 13,000 people between the ages of 16 and 64, collected between 2012 and 2018. The data comes from a Swedish longitudinal study, which mainly deals with health aspects and lifestyle. A number of the data used were obtained through surveys. In addition to information on age, weight and lifestyle, the research team also looked at the distance between home and work. In addition, the answers of the study participants were compared at two different points in time.

It became clear that people who worked more than 40 hours a week and commuted more than five hours a week were more likely to be more physically inactive and sleep less well compared to times when they only needed to commute one to five hours a week . According to the researchers, this could be due to the fact that they have less time to exercise overall or that stress makes it difficult to sleep.

Questionable alcohol consumption

The researchers also looked at the existing data with regard to alcohol consumption. When they analyzed the responses of the study participants, they saw indications of a connection between problem alcohol consumption and places with high socioeconomic status. According to the self-assessment, participants who lived in these places felt more often that they needed to drink less. In addition, bars and pubs located in the immediate vicinity of the workplace were classified as further risk factors for problem alcohol consumption.

Although the results clearly show that work location can have a major impact on aspects of health, the research team was unable to define a perfect commuting distance based on the study results. However, it was found that study participants whose workplace was three kilometers away or less appeared to be more physically active. The reason could be that this distance is easier to cover on foot or by bike. It is also conceivable that a shorter commute to work gives participants more time to exercise.

Although more research on work location and health is urgently needed, people could remember the study results when choosing their next apartment, workplace or drink. Likewise, effects of work arrangements that reduce commuting time should be examined in relation to health behavior.

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