Commuting adds more than 700 calories to your diet

The average UK commuter adds almost 800 calories to their diet every week as a result of their journey to and from work, according to research carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in a new report, ‘Health in a Hurry’.

The report shows that the average time spent commuting in the UK has increased in recent years to almost an hour a day, and says that these longer commutes come with increased stress and higher blood pressure while reducing time available for health-promoting activities such as cooking, exercising and sleeping.

Commuters in London have an average journey of 79 minutes while it is just under 45 minutes for people living in Wales. Unless you use the A483, obvs.

Of the more than 1,500 commuters questioned:

  • Over half (55%) reported increased stress levels
  • 41% reported reduced physical activity
  • Around a third reported increased snacking (33%) or eating fast food (29%)

Instead, many found that commuting makes them want to snack more, either out of boredom or because they have a particularly stressful journey.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “For some of us the daily commute can be a pleasurable experience, giving time for reflection or an opportunity to relax; but for an increasing number of us it is having a damaging effect on our health and wellbeing. As the length of our commute increases this impact is getting worse, including by contributing to rising levels of stress, adding to our waistlines, or eating into time we could otherwise spend doing activities which enhance our health and wellbeing such as sleep, exercise or time spent with friends or family.

Staying calm at the wheel.

The roadworks on the A483 in the coming weeks won’t do anything to help; stress at the wheel is a major problem for many drivers. A survey of UK drivers by Brake (the road safety charity) and Direct Line found that 71% had lost concentration at the wheel in the past year due to stress or annoyance, so if you find yourself getting wound up by that numpty in front of you who has just barged into the queue…

Follow these simple guidelines to help reduce stress and road rage:

  • Is there an alternative to driving? Could you arrive feeling calmer and more refreshed, if you walk, cycling or take public transport?
  • Try to clear your mind of personal or work problems before driving
  • Focus on the road and other road users around you. Unexpected hazards could crop up at any moment and if you are not concentrating it could be fatal.
  • Learn to accept things that bother you on the road, such as other people driving inconsiderately, and make a positive decision not to let them wind you up.
  • Calm, controlled breathing helps to release muscular tension and relieve stress.
  • Plan your route carefully and allow plenty of time for your journey – rushing will only make you more stressed.
  • Ensure the driver’s seat, head restraint and steering column are correctly adjusted for you: aches and pains due to poor posture will not improve your mood.
  • Drive at an appropriate speed well within the speed limit - aggressive aggressively, speeding and overtaking are unlikely to get you there much faster, but could make you feel more tense, or even prevent you from arriving at all.
  • Make sure you eat sensibly, as hunger can affect your concentration - but don’t eat at the wheel as this will distract you from driving .