Long Commutes Have Negative Health Impacts

According to a recent Gallup study, American workers with lengthy commutes are most likely to report a range of adverse physical and emotional conditions.  One in three employees with a commute of more than 90 minutes say they have had a neck or back condition that had caused recurrent pain in the past 12 months; among those with commutes of 10 minutes or less, the figure drops to roughly one in four. Those with long commutes are also more likely to say they have at some point been diagnosed with high cholesterol and are more likely to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that classifies them as obese.

The study also points to a connection between commuting and emotional well-being.  Among employees who take more than 90 minutes getting from home to work, 40% experienced worry for much of the previous day. This is significantly higher than the 28% among those with negligible commutes of 10 minutes or less. Conversely, workers with extremely long commutes were less likely to have experience enjoyment for much of the previous day or to say they felt well-rested that day.

These findings demonstrate a need for employers to mitigate the effects of long commutes on their employees. Suggestions include telecommuting and helping to defray commuting costs for employees.  This growing body of evidence further illustrates the need to develop employment opportunities locally, especially in WV where a lot of the rural labor force has to travel outside of their local communities and counties for employment.  Focusing on entrepreneurism, small business development, and the further deployment of high quality broadband may increase local employment opportunities thereby reducing commute times and improving the quality of life for our citizens.

Learn more about the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index