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Yes, your commute is bad for you too

We take no joy in telling you this, mostly because we didn’t like hearing it ourselves. But if you suspect that all that time you spend slogging to work makes you dumber and unhappier, you’re only partially right.

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It also makes you miserable, hate your job and probably is killing you (OK, that’s wildly overstating the case; it’s just making you feel less healthy).

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index recently asked commuters how they felt about their lives, emotional health, work environment and overall health. And how long it took them to get to the work.

The results, in general: The longer you are in that car, or train, or bus (or walking we suppose), the worse off you are.

Specifically, the longer your commute:

  • The more you worry.
  • You are less likely you are to smile or laugh each day.
  • High blood pressure and obesity are more likely.
  • You will exercise less (and we’re told that’s good for you, supposedly).
  • It's less likely you will see your workplace as having a trusting place.
  • You will hate the job that you’re spending all that time to get to and from.

“I think the numbers that really struck me were around stress and health behavior and work environment. There is a significant difference,” determined by commute time, Nikki Duggan, Healthway's director of operations & analytics, says.

Employers should consider commute time and its effects as they “work to transform workplace culture,” she adds.

Makes sense to us. During the too-many years we had a two-hour-plus round trip for work we certainly felt worse and really, really detested some of the people we worked with (although, full disclosure, we probably would have felt that way about them if we only had to cross the street to clock in).

We’ve uploaded some slides specific to commuting data from the study. To download them as a .pdf click here. A couple of notes: Pages five and six, which deals with positive and negative effects, the question asked of respondents was “In the past day have you experienced …” with the effect. Except for the “Diagnosed with Depression,” which of course was, “Have you ever been.” (This will make more sense when you’re looking at the document.)

Have you ever had a particularly long commute you felt weighed on you?