Long Commutes Contribute to a Sedentary Culture


Between commutes, couches, and computers, we have become a sedentary society. The rise in sedentary behavior and the resulting health consequences was one of the main motivators for Rebel Desk’s founders when they decided to create their own treadmill desk and standing desk solutions. One survey of daily activity showed that people spend a remarkable 21 hours being sedentary. Given that there are 24 hours in a day, that does not leave a whole lot of room for activity.

Long commute times contribute to plummeting activity levels. As recently reported in USA Today, approximately 8% of the workforce in the U.S. commute for one hour or longer. On average, Americans spend a total of 51 minutes each day commuting. This works out to 8.5 days spent traveling to work. In Washington, DC, where Rebel Desk is based, the commute time is the highest in the country at 69 minutes.

Spending this much time just sitting in a car or on a train or bus not only can feel like a waste of your day, it also can be taking a toll on your physical and mental health. TIME magazine detailed on some of these negative effects.

Your Cholesterol Can Rise – A 10-mile one-way drive has been associated with higher cholesterol levels, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Having high cholesterol is an early warning sign of heart disease.

Your Anxiety Can Increase – If you commute more than 30 minutes each way to work, then you could be at risk for increased levels of stress and anxiety, according to a report by the U.K. Office of National Statistics.

Your Happiness and Life Satisfaction Can Decline – The study in the U.K. also found that the longer the commute, the lower people reported overall life satisfaction and happiness. While riding a bus was the least satisfying way to commute, even biking to work correlated with lower levels of happiness if the commute was over 30 minutes.

Your Sleep Can Suffer – A study examining work-life balance reported that people who commuted more than 45 minutes each way had lower sleep quality and felt more exhausted than people with shorter commutes.

You can learn more about the other potential risks from a long commute here. You also can read about some suggestions for making your commute less stressful, including listening to audio books, traveling with a friend, or even using yoga moves to de-stress while your stuck in traffic.

For most of us, we cannot change the length of time we spend commuting so we need to get creative about reducing the anxiety associated with commutes and increasing activity in other parts of our day. Having a treadmill desk or standing desk to work at once you get to the office can help to boost activity levels, even after spending lots of time in the car.

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