Your commute is killing you.

USA Map commute times
Screen capture WNYC

Jane E. Brody at The New York Times counts the many ways long commutes and dependence on automobiles is bad for our health, such as "losing hours a day that would be better spent exercising, socializing with family and friends, preparing home-cooked meals or simply getting enough sleep."

A recent study of 4,297 Texans compared their health with the distances they commuted to and from work.It showed that as these distances increased, physical activity and cardiovascular fitness dropped, and blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference and metabolic risks rose.

The report, published last year in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine by Christine M. Hoehner and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas, provided causal evidence for earlier findings that linked the time spent driving to an increased risk of cardiovascular death. The study examined the effects of a lengthy commute on health over the course of seven years. It revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol. The researchers also linked long driving commutes to a greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation, all of which can impair the quality and length of life.

The solution are the things TreeHugger is all about. Bikeable, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods with short commutes and good public transit for getting around the city or to visit surrounding areas. As time goes on, both the science and the people are supporting this sort of urban design.

IMAGE: Average commute times in the U.S. shown on awesome interactive map

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