Driving is a major part of the daily lives of many folks across the country. It is unavoidable. This is how we get to work, do the shopping and take care of the kids. Most of these excursions go off without a hitch but with too much driving, there comes the risk of health problems. Even a simple work commute of 10 miles a day could trigger some issues for your body. This is not to say we should give up our cars all together. Instead, it might be a benefit to know what your body goes through when driving.

Back Pain  

The obvious problem with driving occurs with your back. Specifically, the lower back that takes the brunt of pressure while sitting in your car seat. As with your office chair, it helps to have proper lumbar support in your driver’s seat. Car manufacturers have recognized this and that is why they provide all kinds of adjustments. Just because you think you have your seat figured out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try for a periodic readjustment. It might also help to bring in a lumbar support pillow. The other option, next time you’re in a cab, ask the cabbie what they do for their bad back!

Road Rage

Our blood pressure is a lot like the stock market. All it takes is a little unfavorable news for the markets to drop and our blood pressure to rise. Driving in a traffic jam can certainly cause the BP to spike up. Factor in anxiety over being late for work and the rage that comes when you feel like someone is taking advantage of you on the road and it’s no wonder your heart starts racing.

That rage can also transfer to someone you’re driving with. A Swedish study of commuters found that couples who shared long commutes were 40% more likely to get a divorce. Translation: You shouldn’t bring that road rage into your relationship. Solution: Mellow out. Try listening to audio books or podcasts to pass the time. You’ll get to where you need to go sooner or later. Is it really worth all that rage?

All That Pollution

Hitting the highway will put you on the frontline of a pollution wave like no other. The EPA estimates we take in about 3,400 gallons of air a day. During a commute, you also could be inhaling several hundred gallons of exhaust pollution. Anyone who already suffers from asthma or emphysema could find themselves in dire straits while on the road. Just because your windows are rolled up doesn’t mean you’re totally protected.

Blood Sugar and Cholesterol on the Rise

Researchers have found that repetitive commutes can cause a rise in blood sugar levels. That in turn can lead to pre-diabetes conditions. There are also studies that show a short daily commute can cause cholesterol levels to rise. Those are two high risk factors that you don’t want to mess around with.

Sleep Disruption

All that driving can also impact your ability for a good night’s rest. That in turn can make you feel exhausted through a good portion of the day. The longer you drive each day, the more likely it is for those disruptions in your sleep patterns to elevate.

Sounds like we should never get behind the wheel of a car again! Being aware of these potential health issues can help you take a proactive stance towards your daily commute. You might even find that taking public transportation alleviates a lot of those problems. Of course, nothing beats a nice walk now and then!