Cut travel time to work and spruce up your life

If long commuting hours to work are giving your nightmares, it is time to either change home or job.

Cut travel time to work and spruce up your life
Pic courtesy: Thinkstock Photos Image for representation purpose only.

Toronto: If long commuting hours to work are giving your nightmares, it is time to either change home or job.

According to a new study from University of Waterloo, the more time you spend getting to and from work, the less likely you are to be satisfied with life - leading to stress and related problems.

“We found that the longer it takes someone to get to work, the lower their satisfaction with life in general,” said Margo Hilbrecht, professor in applied health sciences and associate director of research for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing.

While commuting has long been thought to have some upsides like providing time to unwind and transition from the workday, the new findings suggest the opposite is true for most people.

"The message to employers is that encouraging flexible work hours or providing time for physical leisure can pay dividends in their employees' satisfaction with life,” Hillbrecht said.

The researchers analysed data from Statistics Canada to better understand the links between commute time and well-being.

They found that on top of being linked to lower life satisfaction, long commute lengths are related to an increased sense of time pressure.

“Some people may enjoy a commute but overall, longer travel time is linked to feelings of time crunch which can increase stress levels,” Hilbrecht said.

Lengthy commutes have already been linked to poor mental and physical health, including hypertension, obesity, low-energy and illness-related work absences.

Beyond bad traffic, the researchers found one other factor to be highly correlated with commuters' life satisfaction: physical activity.

“We learned that commuters who had time for physical leisure had higher life satisfaction. Physical activity can mitigate commuting-related stress if workers can include it in their daily routines, but the obvious constraint is time scarcity,” the authors stated.

Longer commutes mean less time for other activities which leads to lower life satisfaction.

Other factors linked to higher life satisfaction among commuters include flexible work hours and a higher household income, the authors said.

The study appeared in World Leisure Journal.

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