Is Your Commute Making You Unhealthy?

Is Your Commute Making You Unhealthy?

Travel better to eat smarter and be healthier.

It’s Callum here from Stephen Clarke Fitness and for the past several years I’ve been working with clients from all backgrounds, professions and different walks of life. Today I’m posing the question…. Can commuting really be one of the things that can make you put on weight?

Official studies say yes. And I agree. Through coaching a lot of business owners and people who regularly travel long distances to and from work, I’ve seen it happen.

If you travel a lot with work, or have a stressful commute, you need to read this. Your travel schedule could be standing in the way of a leaner body and smaller jean size. But there’s plenty you can do about it. Here’s how to be a healthier commuter.

“Health In A Hurry” – a report from The Royal Society For Public Health – found commuting to and from work can have a negative impact on health. In fact, longer commute times are linked with increased stress, higher blood pressure and less time for healthy eating, exercising, and even sleep.

3 Reasons Commuting Can Be Bad For Your Health

According to the study

1: Commuters spend an average of 56 minutes per day commuting to work, and this has increased in recent years

2: There is growing evidence demonstrating the detrimental impact of lengthy, non-active commutes on our health and wellbeing (as opposed to active travel)

3: Research indicates commuting can reduce mental wellbeing, negatively impact physical health, and take time away from exercising

Why Commuting Can Cause Weight Gain

Most people have what’s called a passive commute – travelling by train, bus, or car. So this is around 2 hours a day spent sitting (and probably getting stressed!) when you could be either exercising, or at least walking or moving your body somehow.

Commuting also typically keeps you inside and in artificial light. This keeps you away from sunlight, which will impact your body’s production of Vitamin D. We can only produce Vitamin D when we are exposed to enough sunlight every day. If you’re stuck in a car or train for your commute, this obviously removes yet another chance to be outside in the fresh air.

And then there’s the stress levels. Most people find commuting dreary at best, downright stressful at worst. All that chronic, ongoing stress is bad for your mental wellbeing, emotional health, and even for your physical health (particular blood pressure).

Lastly there are the associated behaviours. Do you routinely grab a coffee when you commute? Chances are it’s not a calorie-free black coffee. And what about a snack? Think about all the food and drink you eat simply to fill the dead time of commuting. Remove those calories from your weeks, months, and years… you’d be a lot lighter and healthier.

Become An Active Commuter

In an ideal world, we would all be able to walk, cycle, or run to and from work. I realise this isn’t possible for everyone. Distance, time, shower facilities, and bags pose challenges. But can you swap any of your passive commute for an active one? Are you able to walk any of it? Or use a cycle hire scheme? Could you run or walk the home leg (then shower at home)?

Even a small bit of active commuting will have major benefits for your health, weight, and stress levels.

Long Commutes = Weight Gain

Experts can prove longer commutes can be a major factor in weight gain. In the study I’ve already mentioned, 38% of people polled said they can’t make healthy meals at home due to their longer commute time. All that commuting time is time you’re not spending doing formal exercise, or getting your daily steps in. And you might even be skimping on sleep in order to get to work on time.

750+ Extra Calories

One in four said they had got into the habit of buying unhealthy food items during their commute. This amounts to an additional 767 additional calories per week – on average. That means some of you are eating a whole lot more!

3 Ways To Have A Healthier Commute

1 Stand instead of sit. If you really can’t turn any of your passive commute (car, train, bus) into active commuting (walk, run, bike) then at least stand up for as much of it as you can.

2 Avoid food temptation. Just don’t buy coffees, smoothies, fizzy drinks, or any food as part of your commute. If you feel hungry, prepare for it by stocking up on healthy snacks. If you absolutely must buy something, go for black tea or coffee, water, a lean protein, fruit, or low fat carb snacks like rice cakes.

3 Include some walking in your commute. Park further away in the car park. Walk up stairs rather than taking escalators. Get off the tube one stop earlier and walk.

Does commuting stop you from exercising and cause you to eat more? I can help you put healthier habits in place (and still get to work on time!) Email me on or call 07494 727 881 and we’ll chat.









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