Long Auto Commutes Found to Be Hazardous to Health

Commuting distance adversely tied to physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, obesity, metabolic risk

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Commuting distance is negatively associated with physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and positively associated with obesity and metabolic risk indicators, according to a study published online May 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

To investigate the impact of commuting distance on physical activity, CRF, and metabolic risk indicators, Christine M. Hoehner, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and associates conducted a cross-sectional study of 4,297 adults (mean age 47.1 years; 81.9 percent male) who had a medical exam between 2000 and 2007 in 12 Texas counties.

In fully adjusted linear regression models, the researchers observed an inverse association between commuting distance and physical activity and CRF. Commuting distance correlated positively with body mass index, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and continuous metabolic score. After adjustment for physical activity and CRF, only the associations with increased blood pressure remained significant in models with metabolic risk indicators as outcomes.

"Commuting distance was adversely associated with physical activity, CRF, adiposity, and indicators of metabolic risk," the authors write. "Multilevel strategies in the home, worksite, and community settings will be needed to mitigate the negative health consequences of long commutes faced by a substantial segment of the U.S. population."

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