cyclingThe average UK commuter adds almost 800 calories to their diet every week as a result of their journey to and from work, according to a new report called Health in a Hurry from the Royal Society for Public Health.

This is just one of the findings of the report which highlights that the average time spent commuting in the UK has increased in recent years to almost an hour a day, and suggests longer commutes are potentially shortening lives. The report highlights the impact of travelling to and from work by rail, bus and car (passive commuting) on the public’s health and wellbeing with longer commute times being associated with increased stress, higher blood pressure and BMI, and reduced 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.

Of more than 1,500 commuters polled:

  • More than half (55%) reported an increase in stress levels.
  • Almost half (44%) reported reduced time spent with family and friends.
  • More than two in five (41%) reported reduced physical activity.
  • Almost two in five (38%) reported reduced time preparing healthy meals.
  • More than a third (36%) reported reduced sleep.
  • Around a third reported increased snacking (33%) or fast food consumption (29%). 

In order to combat many of these issues, the Royal Society for Public Health is now calling for a concerted effort from employers to increase flexible and home working, easing the strain on the roads and rail network during rush hour. Almost three in five (58%) felt flexible working hours would improve their health and wellbeing. It is also calling for ‘health and wellbeing’ to be an explicit specification when awarding train and bus franchises to curb damage to passenger health.