Why Your Daily Commute is Making You Fat

April 29, 2013

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Healthy Daily CommuteIt’s almost a mindless activity: You wake up, get ready for work, then hop in the car and begin your daily commute. You snag the best parking spot and walk into the office with a little extra pep in your step.

But time spent in your car during your daily commute isn’t so great for your health. In fact, it may be contributing to your expanding waistline.

A recent study published in The Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at the association between time spent in the car and average adult body mass index. The results showed if every driver reduced the time spent daily in the car by just 1 mile, the average BMI would decrease by .21 Kg/m2, or about four to 10 pounds, after six years.

This isn’t the first study to link to the time we spend commuting to serious health risks. Research has also linked long commutes to high blood pressure, increased waist circumference, and reduced physical activity. Even commutes that total just 20 miles round trip put you at higher risk for high blood pressure.

The more time you spend in the car, the less time you have for healthy habits like cooking nutritionally-balanced meals and exercise. The time you spend traveling daily is just as important as the foods you eat.

Reducing your time in the car by a single mile each day can be as easy as ditching that stellar parking spot for a lousy one in the back of the lot, walking to work if you live in a city, or planning ahead to combine one shopping trip with as many errands as possible.

If shortening your commute is out of the question, your weight loss plan isn’t doomed. You can practice healthy behaviors on the road to avoid packing on the pounds.

1. Drink plenty of water. Many people misinterpret thirst for hunger and grab a snack when they should be grabbing a water bottle. Use the time during your commute to stay hydrated. It can make a big difference in successful weight loss and personal energy.

2. Pack healthy snacks. If you forget to eat before you hit the road or find yourself ravenous when you leave the office, have a healthy snack on hand, like a CMWL protein bar. This way, you avoid stopping at a convenience store, where high-fat, high-sodium foods like chips and candy bars can be tempting.

3. Adjust your seat. It’s equally important to have good posture in your car seat as it is in your office chair to avoid back pain. Sit close to steering wheel (to your personal comfort) and angle your seat 100 to 110 degrees. If necessary, use a towel to support your lower back. You should feel comfortable. Roll your shoulders back and relax.

4. Travel when traffic is light. No one likes sitting in traffic. It’s stressful, overwhelming, and frustrating when you seem to travel nowhere in 20 minutes. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to crave fattening foods. If you can’t avoid the morning and afternoon rush, consider taking the scenic route to work instead.

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