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long-commutes-lead-to-weight-gainCommuting and Weight Gain a Reality

Commuting.  Some of us would rather be humiliated by Simon on American Idol than drive our daily commutes.  And if the stressful, tedious driving isn't enough, now many of us are facing the sad reality that our clothing is getting tighter.  All that time in the car seemingly enables us to perhaps, eat fast food or get stressed out about all those inept drivers on the road.  And the stress of driving and commuting ups our blood pressure and increases the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, making it very easy to gain weight.  So what are some alternatives?  Some would say road rage is the answer, pulling people out of their cars and literally wrestling them into submission and taking their car keys.  But as fat as we are getting, we don't want to end up on the nightly news as a statistic.  Here is helpful information on commuting and weight gain, and ways to keep the fat off.

Commuting and Weight Gain

Those of us who travel 16 miles or more to work both ways are highly likely to weigh more and have elevated blood pressure.  In addition, the stress hormone, cortisol is released, furthering our propensity to gain weight. 

The most recent study centered on 4,000+ residents from Texas in the cities of Dallas and Austin.  Basically, they found that for every 10-mile increase in commute distance, the driver's body mass index (BMI) rose .17 units.  Lengthy commutes result in people being nine percent more likely to be overweight or obese.  This could be because they are eating while driving, shunning exercise or shortchanging their sleep needs.  Oftentimes people that have long commutes get up very early to side step the traffic for a more smooth commute.

And this should not be a surprise to us:  considerable time spent in the car and in traffic jams also makes a person fatigued, stressed out, and understandably moody, which explains why 52 percent of the people in the study have high blood pressure.

Here are some activities and tactics commuters can implement to stay healthy in all the craziness.

How to Be a Thin Commuter

  • Find the Time to Exercise.  Yes, you are spending a lot of time in the car.  Yes, you have appointments.  But exercise can be one of those appointments that you schedule into your calendar each day.  Even 30 minutes can make a significant difference, upping your metabolism and energy level, and releasing those endorphins so you do not kill the bad driver in front of you.
  • Get enough Sleep:  As stated above, when you are sleep deprived, the stress hormone cortisol is released, leaving your body vulnerable to weight gain.  Go to bed early if you need to!
  • Don't Skip Breakfast:  If you are in a hurry, take a healthy breakfast along.  Pack it the night before.  It could be fruit.  It could be a granola bar.  It could be a hard-boiled egg.  Just eat!  Eating breakfast will jump start your metabolism.
  • Consider Carpooling or Public Transportation.  If your potential carpooling buddy doesn't annoy you, then perhaps that will relieve stress.  And if you can be patient with public transportation, then go for it!
  • Listen to Good Music or Book CD's.  When you can find something that you like, you may actually look forward to the commute and take it easy on those "bad" drivers.
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