There you are sitting, trapped in a steel cage laminated in a highway paralyzed with a solitary Cheerio hanging from your chin.
In front of you, the drivers are sending text messages and crashing each other.
The woman in the vehicle next to yours paints her nails while eating a piece of toast.
On the side of the highway a policeman has made someone stop, which is strange, because nobody goes over 4 mph (6, 43 km / h). That must mean that the driver is a criminal. You make a visual contact.
Close the doors. Close the doors. Close the doors.
You move the radio dial and your options are a public radio report about the unfortunate death of the Nordic folk violinist "Zeke, Goatbutt and the Morning Zoo Crew."
Then your left arm goes numb for a second and you think it's a heart attack, but then you remember that your left arm has been in the same position for 20 minutes and you realize that he's just fallen asleep. You calm down by moving your tongue around, looking for the taste of copper.
"My trip", you think, "is killing me".
And you may be right.
Displacement and health
The average trip for Americans is 25 minutes in each direction. That means, that on average, we spend 50 minutes a day or 5% of our work wake hours in the vehicle. That, if we're lucky. There are 600,000 Americans who drive more than 50 miles (80, 46 km) for more than 90 minutes in each direction. A quarter of them live in the Washington area, D.C. (Something like that explains things, right?).
In a world where everything seems to negatively affect our health, travel can now be added to the list. Like sitting, the number of associations between physical inactivity and health illnesses is increasing. The difference between sitting and commuting is that we have the added advantage of stress.
Displacement and a broken heart
Earlier this year, an Australian study revealed that people who walked or rode their bicycles (active travelers) to go to work gained less weight than the travelers they drove. Okay, that's obvious. Interestingly, researcher Takemi Sugiyama, a behavioral epidemiologist at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, also found that active travelers gained less weight than car passengers who worked in their spare time.
"In order to achieve the level of physical activity necessary to avoid weight gain, it may be more realistic to accumulate physical activity through active transport, instead of adding exercises to the weekly leisure time routine", He told the Health Behavior News Service.
In other words, according to Sugiyama, riding a bicycle to go to work every day is more likely to keep you in tune compared to riding a stationary bike in the gym every day.
As in the Australian study, in 2009, Penny Gordon-Larsen of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health found that men and women who walk or ride a bicycle to work are more in tone. Yes right? But Gordon-Larsen also revealed that men who are active travelers are less likely to be overweight and are more likely to have healthy levels of triglycerides, blood pressure and insulin levels compared to car passengers.
Bad news for travelers in vehicles; those are the two factors of a heart disease.
This is not the only study that establishes a link between heart disease and displacement.
In 2013, health researcher Christine M. Hoehner published a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that linked greater distances of displacement with decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, weight gain and other risk indicators metabolic.
One of the most important conclusions of the study was that even a short journey affected health. Travelers who drove more than 15 miles (24, 13 km) to go to work had a higher risk of obesity and were less likely to comply with the recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity. A journey of only 10 miles (16, 09 km) revealed an association with high blood pressure. And even after Hoehner's team controlled physical activity, they still saw a significant association with blood pressure.
"There may be something else at stake here," Hoehner said. "We do not have the data to support this, but we could hypothesize that people with greater travel are more likely to experience chronic stress, possibly in traffic."
And chronic stress, as we know, can affect all aspects of your life, for example, your love life.
In 2011, Swedish social geographer Erika Sandow published a study that seemed so obvious that it made everyone conclude, "Of course! That makes a lot of sense! Did you have to study that?" But thank God they did. or we would never know for sure.
In his dissertation, Sandow revealed that the risk of separation between couples is 40% higher among long-distance travelers. A long distance trip, in this case, is defined as a trip of at least 18, 6 miles or 29, 93 km (Euclidean distance known as "bird's flight"), which averaged about 45 minutes in the vehicle one way.
Think about it. Less time with your partner. Less time with your children. More pressure on your partner to handle all domestic chores and child care.Too long listening to Zeke, Goatbutt and the Morning Zoo Crew on the car radio, you can see how that would take its toll.
Is your displacement killing you?
Regardless of whether your trip is killing you, this depends on how long it is, says Sandow. Their research concludes that workers with journeys of more than 30 miles (48, 27 km) each way die before people who live closer to their workplaces.
I asked Sandow if it is possible that people who lead unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to travel. She said that the duration of the trip is usually related to gender, income and education. Long-haul passengers tend to be highly educated men with high incomes. Men with higher incomes tend to be older in age. Heart disease, which is linked to factors such as high blood pressure, which we now know is associated with displacement.
But displacements do not affect men only. There is a relationship between female mortality and long journeys as well, especially when women have an income and a low level of education.
"I believe that the lifestyle that long journeys bring is related to health outcomes," says Sandow. "Spending more time on travel must necessarily mean that one has to negotiate this time against other activities. by previous studies that most of the travel times come from the reduction of sleep.Time has also been taken from physical activity and from food preparation. "
Think about the factors that affect your health, exercise, sleep, nutrition and social activity. The displacements have the potential to touch all of them.
So, what can you do?
The study of displacements is still something new, but the first indicators point in the same direction.
"While commuting can mean increased pay, a better job or even getting a job, it can also mean long travel times and increased stress and health problems," says Sandow. "Understanding the long-term health consequences of long-distance travel for travelers and their families is still not very clear. "
Researchers agree that commuting is not an option for many, it is a necessity. In general, you can not stop moving the same way you can stop smoking, but there are steps you can take to reduce the negative impact of your trip on your health.
Hoehner urges employers to allow employees to take breaks to walk throughout the day, give employees the option of standing desks and let people come to the office or leave the office later or earlier to avoid peak hours on the roads.Employees who are concerned about their health should ask for these things instead of waiting for them to be offered.
We are all doing enough to wait when we are sitting in our vehicles on the road.