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How The Time Spent In Your Car Contribute To Your Weight Loss

Commute and Weight loss

How far do you drive to and from work each day? If you are in your car for more than an hour, you may want to consider what it is doing to your health.


Obviously, a sedentary lifestyle is one risk factor for obesity. Most of us can work harder toward being more active in our daily lives. But one area you may not have a lot of control over is your work commute. Researchers have found that those who drive more than an hour a day are heavier and wider.

Professor Takemi Sugiyama from the Australian Catholic University’s Institute of Health and Ageing led a study of the driving habits of 2800 Australian adults and found that those who are behind the wheel for long periods of time are 2.3kg – or about 5 pounds – heavier. This correlates with a BMI of almost 1 point greater – a risk factor for obesity.

Unfortunately, even though we are sitting on our bums, the fat accumulation is greatest in our midsections. Long commuters have larger waistlines (by about 1.5cm) than those who spend less on their commute. Central adiposity is a risk factor for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

A whopping 86% of Americans use a car as their main form of transportation. The average commute, according to USA Today, is 25.5 minutes each way – or 51 minutes per day. Over a year, that is about 204 hours!

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So what can you do, aside from moving or changing jobs? One suggestion is to park away from your workplace and walk or bike the remaining distance. At lunch, instead of getting back into your car, pack a lunch and go for a stroll.

Stuck in traffic? Personal Trainer Jeff Daubs (via the Daily Beast) suggests doing core workouts. "Place your hands against the roof or your car, push up with your arms and squeeze your abs at the same time," he says. "Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat as many times as possible.

The dual action of pressing up with the arms and shoulders and squeezing the core creates a static hold that serves to strengthen the arms, shoulders, back, and core all at the same time." He suggests lifting one or both legs off the floor to engage your core even more.

Journal Reference:
Takemi Sugiyama, et al. Adverse associations of car time with markers of cardio-metabolic risk.Preventive Medicine, 2016; 83: 26 DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.11.029

Additional Resources:
Time.com – 10 Things Your Commute Does to Your Body
CNN – Why Your Commute is Bad for You
The Daily Beast – 8 Ways to Exercise While You Commute

Photo Credit
CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=265548