Long Commutes: Bad for the Heart


A new study finds that, in addition to being a real downer, long commutes are related to bad health. Conducted by Christine Hoehner, Carolyn E. Barlow, Peg Allen, and Mario Schootman, the study found that long commutes are correlated with higher blood pressure and bigger waistlines.  “This is the first study to show that people who commute long distances to work were less fit, weighed more, were less physically active and had higher blood pressure,” said Hoehner. “All those are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.”

The study didn’t specifically examine diet, exercise, or sleep habits, but Hoehner suggests they may be to blame. “It could just be a function of having less discretionary time to be physically active,” said Hoehner. “Or it could be related to people burning fewer calories because they’re sitting longer.”

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  1. Alan S says:

    Headline suggests a causal link. Surely this is more than the study itself would claim to have found. Study only talks about correlations. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc, etc.

    Instinctively, a causal link seems highly plausible (to me, anyway), but I think it’s unproven.

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  2. whatthedevil? says:

    This is the opposite of Freakonomics: this is correlation and selection at its worst.

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  3. Andrew says:

    Longer commute = lower income = less healthy

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  4. Mr. Big says:

    So THAT’S why I’m a tub-o-lard… that 3 mile, 10 minute commute is killing me!

    (I know that is not the reason – I just thought I’d be an a***ole and troll for those poor souls who have commutes from hell) 😉

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  5. Danielle says:

    Was this only for people who commute by car? I’d imagine a long subway commute with a few transfers is quite different from sitting in car for an hour.

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  6. James says:

    Not surprising, as it correlates with the adverse health effects of sitting generally: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html

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  7. RiverVox says:

    Not sure about the study data, but this article should say that it’s about CAR commuting. There are many other modes of getting to work. My husband rides his bike an hour each way to work and it keeps him fit and happy.

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  8. MikeM says:

    I agree strongly with the earlier comments. The headline and first sentence egregiously conflate correlation and causation! This is shameful from Freakonomics and it should be edited immediately for the integrity of this wonderful blog and for the sake of the brand Freakonomics!

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