Survey Shows Commuting Can Degrade Feelings of Health
A cyclist rides along the Kinzie Protected Bike Lane in Chicago, September 16, 2011. In four years, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to add 100 miles of protected bike paths -- separated from car traffic by posts or other dividers. REUTERS/Jim Young

Your daily commute may do more than just get you to work: it also may be bad for your health, according to research published Sunday.

American researchers in 2010 surveyed active commuters who biked or walked to work and those surveyed said they had a better quality of health than commuters who sat in cars, trains or buses to get to work.

Those who commuted via car or public transportation said they suffered more everyday stress, pooer sleep and had a lower self-rank of quality of health than those who biked or walked to work.

However, the recent research, headed by Kristina Jakobsson, associate professor at Lund University in Sweden, extended the survey to Sweden and found an interesting paradox.

Car drivers who commuted 30 - 60 minutes experienced worse health than those whose journey lasted more than one hour, Erik Hansson, medical student and lead author from the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University said.

The survey included 21,088 persons aged 18-65 who worked more than 30 hours a week between 2004 and 2008 in Scania, Sweden.

His possible explanation why super-commuting drivers would be happier than those with shorter travel times?

One explanation for the discrepancy between car and public transport users might be that long-distance car commuting, within our geographical region, could provide more of an opportunity for relaxation, Hansson said. However, it could be that these drivers tended to be men, and high-income earners, who travelled in from rural areas, a group that generally consider themselves to be in good health. More research needs to be done to identify how exactly commuting is related to the ill health we observed in order to readdress the balance between economic needs, health, and the costs of working days lost.