To Your Health: Is your daily commute affecting your well-being?
Stressful. Maddening. And, potentially, bad for your health.
Research has shown that the more time you spend in traffic every day, the greater your likelihood of having high blood pressure, an oversized waistline and other health problems that could increase your risk of developing chronic diseases.
A 2012 study of American commuters found that those with longer drives were less likely to exercise regularly. Even people with relatively short commutes had an increased risk of elevated blood pressure.
This is a problem most of us should be worrying about: 3 in 4 Americans drive to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
So what to do?
You could consider turning to an alternate mode of transportation.
Public transportation, if not as convenient, is certainly cheaper than driving. And since you’re not at the wheel, your stress levels aren’t likely to get as elevated.
If you live close enough to your workplace, you might also think about biking in. Commuting by bike is becoming more popular in Honolulu, according to the Hawaii Bicycling League.
In September, the league conducted a bike count at nine locations over three days. Volunteers counted 6,523 bikers, in the first survey of its kind in Honolulu.
The league also points to American Community Survey data, which shows 2.3 percent of Honolulu residents report commuting by bike, up from 1.2 percent in 2011.
If you can’t bike to work or jump on a bus, experts suggest thinking about what you can do to make your commute a little healthier. Try:
>> Parking further away from your workplace so you can get in a little walk before your day starts.
>> Bringing a healthy breakfast with you so you’re not tempted to stop at the nearest fast food eatery.
>> Learning what de-stressing techniques work for you, and using them in the midst of traffic jams. You could sing along to music, or catch up on an audiobook.
>> Doing a little stretching or even a yoga pose or two before you get into your car. Then, after you park at your destination, stretch again.