The Effects of Commuting For Women

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Researchers from the London School of Economics at University of Sheffield found out that women are becoming more stressed than men when they commute to and from work. Even though men spend more time commuting than women, and are generally unaffected by the practice of commuting, it has a negative effect on the females’ mental health. They also explained that it takes a lot of time for majority of the working people to commute giving people more stress, especially women. The group believed that since women are expected to spend more time at home for housework, caring for the children, and other household chores, the time that commuting eats makes women more sensitive to commuting.

According to Jennifer Roberts, a professor of the University of Sheffield, “We know that women, especially those with children, are more likely to add daily errands to their commute such as food shopping and dropping-off and picking-up children from childcare. These time-constraints and the reduced flexibility that comes with them make commuting stressful in a way that it wouldn’t be otherwise.”

The authors also specified that the stress becomes more magnified among women with children of pre-school age. Compared to men with kids of the same age, the stress was measured to be about four times greater. Furthermore, the study showed that women without kids, but are engaged in long term relationships, are also more stressed than men. However, there is not much difference comparing men with women who have no children, not engaged in long term relationships, those with flexible hours at work and those whose partners take the bulk of child care.

Pail Dolan of the London School of Economics also said that “…Men also experience competing demands on their time, and so it may simply be that they are less affected by the psychological costs of commuting.”

The researchers made use of data gathered for the British Household Panel Survey and these surveys included details about health, well being, socio-economic and labor related questions. The Royal Automobile Club of UK estimates that on average, a person travels about 54 minutes each day in the UK for work, while some may travel for as long as two hours. The Heart Research UK also gave tips on how to maintain a healthy and stress free life notwithstanding commuting hours:

  • Talk to your employer about flexible hours.
  • If flexible hours are not possible, try leaving home a bit earlier and go to a gym near your place of work, or stay on longer after work and go for a run or walk near the office. The aim is to avoid the rush hour and to get some exercise.
  • If you arrive home late, avoid caffeine and alcohol, eat a light and healthy meal rich in fruit and vegetables. This will help you sleep better.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.




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