Why You Should Never Overlook a Long Commute

Why You Should Never Overlook a Long Commute
 

Unless you work at home, you likely have to endure some form of commute to get to work. According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian spends 26 minutes traveling to and from their place of employ. In the largest Canadian cities - namely, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal - the total time spent in transit crept to a shade over 30 minutes, making them among the longest in the world. While the outcome of this study suggests that Canadians are generally satisfied with their routine journeys to work, there are several reasons why you should not overlook the negative consequences of a lengthy commute.
 
If you are spending (or looking to spend) in excess of 45 minutes on your commute, take a look at the reasons below for why this may not be good for you.
 
Physical Health
According to a study out of Washington University in St. Louis, MO, longer commutes can have detrimental effects on your personal health. The study concluded that those with longer commutes tend to have larger waistlines and have high blood pressure, placing an increased strain on the heart.

Says Christine Hoehner, the head of the research team: "The findings suggest that commuting distance is adversely associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, cardiovascular fitness, adiposity, and blood pressure ..."
 
Mental Health
A Swedish study from 2008 illustrated that people with a lengthy commute demonstrate increased stress levels, sleep worse and exhibit decreased social interactions. The length of the commute alone isn't the only thing for commuters to have to worry about: “Stress rises with a commute's variability, and for transit riders it rises with the unpredictability and overcrowding of a bus or train,” according to Eric Jaffe at Atlantic Cities.
 
Financial Cost
In most metropolitan areas, the further you have to travel, the more costly it is to do so via public transit. In many cases, the cost of traveling to transit stations is also something that needs to be considered. If driving to work, the cost assumed is significant: gas, insurance, maintenance, accelerated vehicle depreciation. A commute of more than 45 minutes is going to add a significant financial burden.
 
Opportunity Costs
Opportunity cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the next best alternative forgone (that is not chosen) (Wikipedia). 
In other words, the time spent on a lengthy commutes time that is being taken away from other more desirable events, such as spending time with your family, sleeping, exercising or socialising with friends. With most people, these costs are significant as the effects of a long commute can bleed into many other aspects of your personal life.

 
The end result of a long commute is that your work may begin to suffer. With decreased sleep, increased stress levels and limited personal time, performance and overall job satisfaction may begin to wane. According to an economic study, empirical analyses concluded that “…people with longer commuting time report systematically lower subjective well-being.”
 
 In other words, long commutes make you unhappy.
 
 If you are looking for a new job that requires a long commute or you are currently enduring a long daily trip to work, do yourself a favour and think carefully about whether it is worth the investment – both financial and otherwise.