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Long commute? It's bad for your heart and waistline

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: May 8, 2012 - 2:26 PM

Are you sick of your commute to work? Bad news: It might be making you sick.

According to a new study in three car-centric Texas cities, the longer your daily commute, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure, an oversized waistline and other health problems that increase your risk for chronic diseases.

“Long commutes really get under the skin in terms of affecting people’s health,” says lead author Christine Hoehner, an assistant professor of public health sciences at Washington University, in St. Louis.

Hoehner and her team looked at 4,300 people in Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin, Texas. The researchers estimated the distance of each participant’s daily commute, and they also collected data on health measures such as exercise habits, body mass index, waist size, cholesterol and blood pressure.

People with longer commutes tended to be less physically active, even after the researchers took into account extenuating factors such as age, race, educational levels and family size. Seventy-six percent of people who worked within five miles of their home averaged at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day (as federal health officials recommend), compared to just 70% of those whose commute exceeded 30 miles round-trip.

In addition, people in the 30-mile-and-up club were more likely to be obese and to have an unhealthy waist size (40 inches for men, 35 inches for women). Excess belly fat is a known risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, strokes and other serious health problems.

Read more from Time.

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