The commuter life of train delays, warm journeys and overcrowding are worse for your health and happiness than you already thought

Francesca Washtell
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Rush Hour At King's Cross Train Station
Commute, work, sleep, repeat, commute, work... (Source: Getty)

If you're one of the UK's 24m commuters and had the sneaking suspicion your journey-heavy lifestyle was making you less healthy... unfortunately, you were right.

The average commuter in the UK travels for 56 minutes a day, with the majority of these types of journeys usually being undertaken on "non-active" modes of transport such as cars, buses and trains, according to a study from the Royal Society for Public Health.

Around a third of respondents to a poll said they snack more due to their commute, while 1,500 said they believe their journeys add an average of more than 700 calories to their diets each week through grazing and the loss of evening cooking time.

Read more: Here's how much your commuting time will fall by 2031

More than a third also said their commutes cut into their sleeping time.

As well as eating into people's diets, commuting was also found to be associated with higher stress and elevated blood pressure.

More than half of commuters said their daily slog increased their stress levels – something lots of Southern users will probably confirm.

Read more: These are the best commuter towns

Opinion polls indicated the factors commuters experience as the most detrimental to health and wellbeing are journey delays, overcrowding, antisocial behaviour, uncomfortable temperatures (probably not helped by the most recent heatwave) and long commutes.

"Over the past decade, we have seen greater discussion and recognition of the importance of workplace health; however, the impact of the rush hour commute to and from work is often ignored, despite the growing evidence of the detrimental impact for our health and wellbeing," said Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health.

Read more: As London swelters in 30 degree temperatures, could you be sent home from work?

To knock commuter stress upside the head and boost more than a third of the country's wellbeing, the Royal Society for Public Health has recommended all first class carriages on commuter trains be declassified to banish the "standing room only" tradition.

It has also called on restrictions to unhealthy food and drink outlets in stations, as well as more regularly publishing information on train and bus capacity.

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