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Alarming link between commute time and poor mental/physical health

A group of students/researchers at College@Home have conducted a study to find out how your average daily commute may be affecting your physical and mental well-being.

A new study conducted by researches at College@Home has concluded what many people already believe: commuting is hazardous to your health. Aside from simply being one of the most annoying parts of your day, commuting may also be taking a toll on your mental and physical well-being. College@Home’s thought provoking findings not only deal with average commute times, but also interesting facts like how your commute can affect your marriage, how much sleep traffic causes you to lose and the relationship between obesity and average travel time.

Let us first examine average commute times. The average person spends roughly 38 minutes per day getting to and from work. This translates to 165 hours per year. Want to know what the busiest traffic day and time of the week is? Highways are most congested on Fridays at 4:30 p.m.

Not surprisingly, the number of cars on the road has dramatically increased in recent years. There are currently 254 million cars on U.S. roads, a 20 percent jump in just ten years. Aside from increased car ownership, the study sites one another example for increased road congestion. One simple factor is the chain of events that occurs when a driver applies the brakes. When one car applies the brakes, it forces the car behind it to slow down and apply its brakes and so on.

The traffic resulting from such factors is not only aggravating for drivers, but also a drain on their mental health. Statistics show that drivers with longer commute times worry more and are angrier. Somewhat alarming is the fact that these angry drivers are increasingly acting out while driving. Thirty-four percent of angry drivers will honk their horn everyday, while 27 percent will yell at another driver. Although less frequent, 19 percent will give someone the finger; 17 percent will flash their headlights; 7 percent will mimic initial aggressive driving behavior and two percent will try to run someone off the road on a daily basis.

These drivers are not just unhappy while behind the wheel; it affects social interactions and relationships as well. Every 10 minutes spent commuting results in 10 percent fewer social interactions. One alarming statistic points out that couples are 40 percent more likely to divorce if one partner commutes more than 45 minutes daily.

Aside from affecting drivers mentally, commute times also hinders our physical health. Factors such as neck/back pain, high cholesterol, and obesity all increase in relation to commute time. Such physical ailments results in drivers losing approximately 2,183 minutes of sleep each annually. Long commutes can also increase your risk of a heart attack. In fact, 96,000 heart attacks are attributed to traffic each year in the U.S.

Source: College@Home