Commuting just 10 miles to work each day 'increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer'
Travelling just 15 miles each way to work leaves commuters more likely to be obese
Researchers studied health of 4,300 commuters in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin areas of Texas
13:07 GMT, 28 May 2012
Workers who commute more than ten miles to work each day are at greater risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes or cancer, researchers have warned.
Long-distance commutes can be particularly hazardous to health and are linked to increased weight, bigger waistlines and lung fitness, according to a study.
And scientists at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, claim that travelling just 15 miles to work are at more likely to be obese and not getting enough exercise.
Road to bad health: Workers who commute more than ten miles to work each day are at greater risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes or cancer
Lead researcher Christine Hoehner said: 'The study is the first to show that long commutes can take away from exercise and are associated with higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure.
'All of these are strong predictors of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.'
The researchers based their results on the health of 4,300 commuters in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin areas of Texas.
U.S. census figures show that over the past four decades, Americans are commuting longer distances, with an average commuting time of 20 to 25 minutes.
However, Dr Hoehner and her team calculated the shortest commuting distances by road for the workers, who live in areas where about 90 per cent of people travel back and forth to work by car.
They also tracked their heart and lung health, body mass index (BMI) – which is a measure of weight relative to height – waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, or fat in blood, and blood sugar levels of the commuters, as well as their physical activity.
'There is no reason why taking walks during work breaks can't become a part of life'
Fifty-one per cent of the people in the study travelled ten miles or less to work each way, and 18 per cent travelled more than 20 miles. The average commute was 12 miles.
The researchers found that long commutes were associated with less moderate or vigorous exercise, greater BMI and larger waists and higher blood pressure.
'It looks like the threshold was a commute distance of ten miles for blood pressure,' said Dr Hoehner, adding it started to change with that distance.
Obesity was associated with a commute of more than 15 miles.
The researchers found no differences in the findings between men and women and different age groups.
Dr Hoehner suggested the long commutes and more time spent behind the wheel reduce how time much people exercise.
She said: 'For folks that live a long way from work they need to find ways to build physical activity into their day.
'Driving to work has become a part of American life. There is no reason why taking walks during work breaks can't become a part of American life too.'