We recently revealed how dirty car interiors really are, and how effectively they harbour bacterial and viral illnesses. However, extended periods of time behind the wheel can make you ill in other ways, too.
Firstly, your commute can get you down in terms of stress and a poor diet. According to TUC data, Mancunian commuters spend 48 hours a year stuck in traffic, while for Londoners it’s 50 hours.
“People have longer work commutes than ever before so it’s important that you do everything you can to reduce frustration on the road and make your commute as enjoyable as possible,” said David Johnson, director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts.
“Quite often a work commute is unavoidable, so by putting simple measures in place, you can make your car a welcoming environment, which in turn, directly impacts your health and mood.”
So, here’s how to stay healthy on the road, and make your commute work for you.
Take some time for yourself
One of the advantages of a long commute is you have time to yourself. How you use that time in your own head, while of course paying attention to your driving, can be the difference between a bad drive and a good one.
Time for reflection is helpful, without the distraction of social media and technology. Enjoy the downtime and you’ll hit the ground running when you arrive at work.
Long commutes are also the perfect opportunity to educate yourself with audiobooks, podcasts and music. You could learn a new skill, develop a new interest, or simply broaden your knowledge.
Make your commute more fun
It may sound obvious, and maybe a bit silly, but a good first port of call for a pick-me-up on the road is putting on your favourite tunes and having a good singalong. A study by Nature Research has found that listening to ‘heroic’ music can up your mood. Line up that Avengers soundtrack…
Listening to music too loud can get you in trouble, though. Bradford council tried to pass a law that would see drivers playing loud music fined £100.
Take up a hobby
Being crafty around your commute can free up time. Finish work at five, but traffic doesn’t calm down until half-six? Get a gym membership near your work, so you can either get in early, or leave late. Either way, that hour-and-a-half commute could shrink to 50 minutes if you devote a bit of time to your fitness.
The other plus points are well-known. Burning calories will keep you healthy, and a bit of exercise releases good endorphins. A good mood, made better by clear morning or evening roads. A win-win.
Work in the city? Break up your commute by leaving your car on the outskirts, then walking or taking public transport. It could save you time, money (depending on where you are) and boost your mood. A bit more exercise is never a bad thing.
Give yourself enough time
Needless to say, a rushed drive is a stressful drive. And you’re more likely to make poor decisions behind the wheel. Get ahead of the traffic, roadworks and any other obstacles by leaving with time to spare.
Then there’s the obvious problem of the law. Driving carelessly can land you in hot water, with a £100 fine and three points. The job of driving should always be top of your priority list.
Keep your car tidy
We’ve saved the nagging for the end, but it’s necessary all the same. Maintain the place where you spend two hours of your day, and your mood and health will likely improve.
From crumbs to clutter, you’re better off without it all. Have a good clean-out and rediscover your car’s cabin.