Rush hour journeys may affect mental and physical health of commuters

Economic progress and technological advancements have drastically reduced the drudgery in every part of life, but the persistent problem of shortage of time has engulfed almost every professional across the globe. While trying to fulfill the demands of work and family, a person may feel angry, anxious or frustrated. With soaring cost of living, people tend to work longer hours, putting pressure on their health.

A recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has suggested that long and stressful rush hour journeys to work can be detrimental to both physical and mental health of commuters. The study sheds light on the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle, devoid of any physical activity and exercise. Non-active commuting has been found to cause an array of physical and mental ailments, including stress and high blood pressure.

Many commuters tend to consume unhealthy food that can affect the mental health and the smooth functioning of vital organs, such as heart and liver. To examine the level of well-being, and the length and type of commute, the British Household Panel Survey gathered information from various sources, such as the Office for National Statistics, apart from looking at self-reported health status of the commuters.

People who spent long hours on commute had lower level of happiness

Of the 1,500 people who participated in the survey, 55 percent were found to experience stress-related symptoms due to their commute, while 41 percent did not participate in any physical activity. Moreover, nearly 33 percent reported to eat and drink outside regular meals. As per the scientists, various factors, such as length of commute, overcrowding, anti-social behavior, journey delays, etc., are responsible for the negative impact on health.

As per a 2015 report published in the CNN Money, workers in America spend approximately 200 hours per year on their daily commute. Moreover, working people in America spend 45 minutes, on an average, in commuting to work. Nearly 77 percent people use their car to travel to work, whereas 21 percent use bus.

The researchers observed that people who spent long hours on commute had a lower level of happiness and satisfaction. Further, those who travelled by bus had lower level of well-being and were more prone to think that their daily activities were not worthwhile, compared to those who shuttled between work and home in cars. However, those who used trains to commute experienced a higher degree of anxiety and stress.

Need to add physical activity to daily routine

According to the study, daily commuters need to be engaged in health-promoting activities, including a flexible home-working culture. In fact, transport companies can play an important role in enhancing health and well-being of people who need to travel during rush hour. Moreover, problems such as overcrowding must be curbed by authorities to decrease stress levels of daily commuters. People can plan their journey on the basis of the notification by the transport department regarding crowding level in bus and train.

The researchers recommended following tips to daily commuters:

  • getting down the bus or car before reaching the destination
  • taking stairs instead of lift and going for a walk during lunch breaks
  • keeping oneself distracted during commute that can help reduce stress levels

Leading a stress-free life

It is believed that shortage of time is the problem of perception due to a drastic change in the way people work and live. But when the job or the kind of lifestyle one is leading does not allow him or her to remain active, physical exercise or mindfulness practices can be the best solution.

If you are battling some form of mental disorder, get connected to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. To learn about the best mental health programs in the U.S., call at our helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our mental health specialists for assistance.