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Long car commutes can make you fat: study

This woman's waist circumference may be expanding.

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There's fresh evidence that calling your long daily drive to and from work a "killer commute" may be more apt than you think.

A new study of 4,300 Americans has found that people with long car commutes tend to have larger waistlines and higher blood pressure, according to the CBC.

Researchers pointed out that health risks increase for people who commute and then work at a desk.

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Lead investigator Christine Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. said that commuting distance is "an understudied and habitual source of sedentary behaviour that is prevalent among employed adults and important for individuals with the additional exposure of occupational sitting."

Commuters in the study underwent medical exams, including treadmill tests to assess their heart and lung fitness, and were asked about their exercise habits.

Commuting more than 16 kilometres was linked with higher blood pressure levels; people with longer commutes also exercised less and had larger waist circumferences.

An earlier Canadian study found that, for each additional hour in a car, there was a six per cent increase in likelihood of obesity, reports the CBC.

And they report that about "82 per cent of Canadian of commuters travelled to work by car, 12 per cent took public transit and six per cent walked or bicycled."

"The happiest cities in the world happen to have the highest rates of cycling, so it's not just for the environment, not just for your physical health, but for your mental health, too," Janet Barlow, a co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, told the CBC.

Do you drive a long distance to work? Do you think it affects your health?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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