The science that involves studying the effects of commuting would seem grim indeed, but there has been a solid body of evidence that's emerged recently, enumerating the ills that go along with driving those extra miles.
I am a big fan of Matt Yglesias' coverage of all things business/economic. He's not always right, but more often than not he makes a great case. Here, we already know that commuting is stressful, but he brings out the big guns fully loaded with evidence-heavy ammo.
a new study ... shows that when you control for sociodemographic characteristics, smoking, alcohol intake, family history of diabetes, and history of high cholesterol that commuting distance is negatively associated with physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness and positively associated with BMI, waste circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and continuous metabolic score.
Maybe this is obvious to most commuters, but maybe it doesn't hurt to add this to your list of reasons why you deserve a raise (should your boss happen to live a quarter mile from the office). As always, Matt goes beyond the workplace impact and looks at the policy implications.
In other words, a long commute is definitely bad for your blood pressure but it's positively disastrous if it ends up eating into your physical activity time. So a longish walk or bike ride to work probably isn't that bad, but a long drive is disastrous. I really firmly believe that the existence of persistent regular traffic jams is just about the most underrated problem in American public policy, especially because it's a problem we could almost certainly solve relatively easily with a mix of congestion pricing, demand-responsive pricing of street parking, and more bus service.
Something to think about on that long ride...