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A long commute is not uncommon—some workers travel more than an hour each way to work, either on trains, buses or in cars. Despite how common they are, these long commutes can be damaging to your health. They’re stressful, reduce your sleep, increase your snacking, and limit your free time. It’s worth trying to keep your commute time as short as possible. Here’s how your long commute could be affecting your health:

Increased Stress

No matter how you travel to work, it’s stressful. If you drive a car, you’re contending with traffic, bad drivers, accidents, or bad weather. If you take a train or subway, you might get anxious about missing it, not finding a seat, or simply being packed like a sardine with other commuters. More than half of workers report that they feel more stressed as a result of their commutes, which can’t be good for your blood pressure or your overall morale.

Increased Junk Food Consumption

If you’re commuting by car, train, or bus, it means you’re sitting for most of it—not burning any calories and certainly not stretching out your muscles or joints. And at the end of the day, you’re probably hungry. Unfortunately, commuting offers the perfect chance to snack on unhealthy, processed foods and little time for preparing a more nutritious meal. If you have a long commute, you’re more likely to pick up some fast food or takeout for dinner since you’re more pressed for time and stressed from the travel. The last thing you feel like doing is taking the time to cook.

Reduces Sleep

Imagine if you could snag an extra hour of sleep each morning in exchange for a long commute. Amazing, right? Your immune system would be stronger, your energy higher, and you’d consume less coffee, energy drinks, and other sugary snacks that your body craves when you’re tired. Most people don’t get enough sleep at night and commuting is a big reason for that.

Limits Your Free Time

You’re also missing out on the quality time you could be spending with friends and family or pursuing important hobbies, like exercise. This hurts your overall happiness and sense of wellbeing. Your body is probably craving some movement after sitting at a desk all day. Given a shorter commute, you’d have more time to squeeze in a workout, even if it just means walking your dog or getting in a good stretch before you sit down to dinner.

Look For a Shorter Commute

When you’re looking for a new job, a short commute should be one of your “must-haves.” Work with a staffing agency so they can find matches for you that are best suited to your qualifications and lifestyle needs. They might be able to find an arrangement with flex scheduling, allowing you to work from home when you need to and eliminating your commute altogether.

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