Longer Daily Commute Linked To Poor Mental Health: Study

A recent South Korean study establishes a connection between longer commute hours and depression. Read further to know more. 

 Onlymyhealth Staff Writer
Written by: Onlymyhealth Staff WriterUpdated at: Dec 26, 2023 19:00 IST
Longer Daily Commute Linked To Poor Mental Health: Study

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Every now and then, we come across statements revolving around how traffic jams contribute to air pollution, and noise pollution and are highly detrimental to the environment. However, a recent study brought to light a much more serious aspect of it. As per a study published by the Journal of Transport & Health, prolonged hours of daily commute can lead to mental health issues like depression. It also states that extended commute time also contributes to a significant decrease in physical activity, poor quality of sleep, and increased alcohol consumption among others. 

About The Study

Longer Commute Leads To Depression

Among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, South Korea is believed to be one with the longest average commuting time and highest rates of depression. Hence, it was the perfect place for analysis and conducting research around this thesis. The research was published by a research team led by Dr Lee Dong-wook, a professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Inha University Hospital in South Korea. 

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The Fifth Korean Working Condition Survey is a nationally representative survey conducted in 2017 from where the researchers analyzed data from 23,415 people aged between 20 and 59 years. Factors like age, sex, education, income, relationship status, occupation, region of residence, and weekly working hours were also considered while drawing conclusions, and participants’ mental health was assessed using the WHO’s five-point well-being index. 

What Were The Findings? 

The researchers concluded that people who spend more than an hour commuting to and from work are 1.16 times more likely to get depression at some or the other point in time when compared to those who spend less than half an hour. As per researchers, with less time to spare after a long commute, it becomes more difficult to take time to relieve stress and combat physical fatigue through sleep, hobbies, and other activities. 

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The study also found that the average commute time is 47 hours, which amounts to approximately four hours of just traveling per week if the subject works for five days. This kind of schedule also leads to less time for the workers to spend on developing a healthy and active lifestyle, which is also a contributing factor to depression.