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Earlier this month, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study that suggests long, passive commutes, such as those by car or airplane, represent not just wasted time but also a potentially deadly form of sedentary behavior
The results were troubling: The longer your commute, the less likely you were to exercise. Longer commutes also meant you tended to have a higher body-mass index, higher waist circumference and higher blood pressure.
Limited evidence exists on the metabolic and cardiovascular risk correlates of commuting by vehicle, a habitual form of sedentary behavior.
To examine the association between commuting distance, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and metabolic risk indicators.
This cross-sectional study included 4297 adults who had a comprehensive medical examination between 2000 and 2007 and geocoded home and work addresses in 12 Texas metropolitan counties. Commuting distance was measured along the road network. Outcome variables included weekly MET-minutes of self-reported physical activity, CRF, BMI, waist circumference, triglycerides, plasma glucose, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and continuously measured metabolic syndrome. Outcomes were also dichotomized using established cut-points. Linear and logistic regression models were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, smoking, alcohol intake, family history of diabetes, and history of high cholesterol, as well as BMI and weekly MET-minutes of physical activity and CRF (for BMI and metabolic risk models). Analyses were conducted in 2011.
Commuting distance was negatively associated with physical activity and CRF and positively associated with BMI, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and continuous metabolic score in fully adjusted linear regression models. Logistic regression analyses yielded similar associations; however, of the models with metabolic risk indicators as outcomes, only the associations with elevated blood pressure remained significant after adjustment for physical activity and CRF.
Commuting distance was adversely associated with physical activity, CRF, adiposity, and indicators of metabolic risk.