Back in 2016, there were more than three million workers whose commute took longer than two hours a day. The pandemic and a switch to hybrid working have changed the routine for many of us, and the latest figures from studies by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) show that average commuting times are on the up.
We all know that getting to and from work can be an inconvenience, but did you know it can actually be bad for your health?
How bad is your commute?
A bad commute is a relative thing – while being sat on a packed train for an hour can be one person’s idea of hell, for someone else it might be a great time to zone out with book, some music, or an audiobook.
If a commute is something you can’t avoid, it’s worthwhile trying to make the most of it. We outline a ways you can do this in ou blog – how to have a happier commute.
To find out if your commute really is a bad one in the scheme of things, take this fun, online test.
How commuting times are increasing
The most recent TUC study into commuting times took place in 2019 and found that it took workers five minutes longer than it did in 2019. Figures from an earlier study showed that UK commute times increased by three minutes a day between 2004 and 2014, from 52 to 55 minutes. It now takes an average of 59 minutes.
Londoners have the longest commuting times, averaging at 79 minutes.
The TUC blames lengthening commutes on three main factors:
- The government not investing enough in transport infrastructure
- Employers not offering enough flexible and home-working opportunities
- Wages falling while house prices have risen, making it harder for people to live close to where they work
But what effect is this having on the health of employees?
How the commute could be damaging your health
The most obvious effects of a long commute are stress-related health issues, but there are all sorts of physiological issues that can cause you some problems too.
Blood sugar and cholesterol increase
A report written by researchers from the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas outlined that driving more than 10 miles each way, both to and from work, means you’re more susceptible to higher blood sugar levels, which can lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes.
To make matters worse, the same report found that similar commutes were also associated with higher cholesterol levels, which is a warning sign for heart disease.
Rising blood pressure
Another physical side-effect of the daily commute is an increase in blood pressure – both temporarily and in the long term.
As if commuting during rush hour wasn’t bad enough, it’s made even worse if you’re worried you could be late for work – and all this stress can lead to a temporary spike in blood pressure and, even more worryingly, a longer-term rise in blood pressure that is a factor in both heart disease and strokes.
Increased risk of anxiety and depression
A report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that commuting more than half an hour to work each way led to reports of higher levels of stress and anxiety than those with shorter commutes or no commutes at all.
And in the same report that found commuting led to increased cholesterol and blood sugar levels, researchers from the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas also found people with commutes of at least 10 miles each way have a higher tendency toward depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
Lack of sleep and backache
The latest Regus Work-Life Balance Index worked out that average commuters in the UK will spend 13,216 minutes travelling. That equates to nine, 24-hour days or 27 eight-hour working days. That’s more than many full-time workers’ agreed annual leave of 25 days’ holiday a year.
A 2012 Regus study found people who commute for longer than 45 minutes each way reported lower sleep quality and more exhaustion than those with shorter commutes.
And to make it even harder to get your head down, the wrong posture associated with sitting in a car seat as either a driver or a passenger can badly affect your back.
So it looks like working from home could be better for you than anyone ever imagined – that said, working from home can be bad for your health too. Exercise could be the key to a better work-life balance as could more time spent working from home. And that’s where a conference call can help.
How a conference call can help you can the commute
If you need to travel into the office to attend meetings, then a simple conference call can be the difference between a long commute and extra time spent at your desk while working from home. Here are few good reasons why you should choose our service over the others out there:
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- Our improved service offers HD quality audio for everyone.
- We never charge set up fees, there are no reservations, and you only ever pay for the calls you make.
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