Health Impacts of Work Commuting

Contributed by Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS


Commuting is an unfortunate reality of the fast-paced world we live in. According to recent data, the average travel time one way to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes. In congested metropolitan areas, such as New York City or Los Angeles, a typical commute is just short of an hour. Most adults are literally spending 10 percent or more of their waking lives transporting themselves to work. Recent research is showing that this growing concern not only has powerful effects on your quality of life, but may be directly influencing your health.


A cross-sectional study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined the correlation between commuting distance, cardiorespiratory fitness, and metabolic risk. Examining the medical information collected from nearly 4300 adult participants in 12 metropolitan areas, researchers analyzed commuting distance, exercise behavior, and a host of health biomarkers. The results established that commuting distance and time were strongly associated with decreased self-reported physical activity, and increased BMI, blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome score. When health outcomes were analyzed dichotomously, commuting distances of greater than 15 miles were associated with lower odds of meeting exercise guidelines and achieving fitness benchmarks than commuting distances of less than 10 miles and furthermore of less than 5 miles.


There are countless factors contributing to the global rise in obesity worldwide, and work/life balance is one which is just beginning to be examined. Commuting is often an uncontrollable, but very real, element influencing our health. If you are finding it difficult to maintain your vitality, wellness, and the body that you want, consider examining less obvious lifestyle factors. 


doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.

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