Commuting to work ‘is bad for the health’

by Bonnie

Oh, the horror of it all! The stench of three-day-old body odour mixed with greasy food at eight o'clock on a Monday morning, the jostling for seats and the bruises acquired from trying to dodge other people's huge suitcases: commuting to work is downright hellish.



Oh, the horror of it all! The stench of three-day-old body odour mixed with greasy food at eight o'clock on a Monday morning, the jostling for seats and the bruises acquired from trying to dodge other people's huge suitcases: commuting to work is downright hellish.

And not only does travelling by public transport into work give us the red mist to set us up nicely for the rest of the week, it can also be bad for our health, according to a new survey published in the BMC Public Health journal.

Researchers from Lund University found those who commute by train, bus or car, or walk or cycle to their workplace, can experience stress, exhaustion and poor sleep quality.

Lead researcher Erik Hansson explained: "Generally car and public transport users suffered more everyday stress, poorer sleep quality and exhaustion, and on a seven point scale felt that they struggled with their health compared to the active commuters. The negative health of public transport users increased with journey time."

This was true for all commuters who travel for between 30 and 60 minutes in cars, although individuals whose journey takes more than an hour actually had lower levels of poor health.

"One explanation for the discrepancy between car and public transport users might be that long-distance car commuting, within our geographical region, could provide more of an opportunity for relaxation," the academic pointed out.

"However, 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 to be in good health. More research needs to be done to identify how exactly commuting is related to the ill health we observed in order to readdress the balance between economic needs, health, and the costs of working days lost."

Sadly, many of us Nifties will have face the commute for a few more years to come, with one in five (21 per cent) having to reconsider their retirement plans because of the current economic climate.

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