In the movie Animal House, Dean Wormer warns one fraternity pledge, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
He was talking about the unhealthy side effects of being a member of the disreputable Delta Tau Chi frat, but it turns out that similar health issues can result from being a part of a much more seemingly innocuous group: the white-collar workforce.
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A study from Stockholm University says that workers who have a lengthy commute to work are more prone to being overweight, having sleep problems, and developing excessive drinking habits than those with a short or non-existent commute. The study surveyed 13,000 Swedes between the ages of 16 to 64.
“People who worked more than 40 hours and commuted more than five hours each week were more likely to be physically inactive and experience sleep problems, compared with times when they only commuted one-to-five hours a week,” the study’s authors wrote.
And to be clear, when they say a “lengthy” commute, they mean not lengthy at all. Just a two-mile trip contributed to these problems, the researchers found. Here in America, Zippia reports that the average office worker travels around 40 miles round-trip each day.
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The theory is that those who had shorter distances might opt for walking or biking more often. And as for the higher rate of boozing? The study, in part, suggests that after a long day, long commuters were apt to hit a local bar before heading home. (If you want anecdotal evidence, just hop on a commuter train leaving any major U.S. city and count the number of people sipping from brown bags.)
So is this all to say that a return to the office is wholesale horrible for your health? Probably not. But if you hate commuting, and your manager is wondering why you haven’t been showing up for mandatory in-office days, just tell them a Swede told you not to.
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