There are more than 24 million commuters in the UK today, and the average travel time to work for London commuters is 79 minutes. Reports have found that non-active commutes, such as on buses and trains, have a detrimental effect on both the physical and mental health of commuters, in both the short- and long-term. Here are some of the most common issues to look out for, and what you can do to counter them.
The busy, on-the-go nature of a London commute and the lack of opportunity it presents to pick up healthy food at convenient times is the cause of hugely unbalanced food intake for commuters. The fast pace of commuting sees people eat an average of 767 calories a day in addition to their main meals, and more than a third of people snacking more than they usually would. Having to rely on fast food outlets when looking to buy food and drink on a commute means the general nutritional value of the food commuters eat is of a poorer quality than it should be. In addition to this, eating on the go does not give the body chance to digest food properly, which can result in a number of gastrointestinal problems that can further thow the working day off balance. This combination of low quality food and a lot more of it causes lack of proper nutrition and in some cases weight problems for commuters.
Fatigue and Exercise
Commuting, particularly in major cities like London, where journeys rely heavily on crowded public transport, is a physically exhausting experience, leading to many people feeling a lack of energy when they get to work, and considerable fatigue when they finally get home at the end of a working day. 41% of commuters say that their journeys to and from work had an detrimental impact on their ability or will to exercise in their spare time, causing increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Long term problems with fatigue have a knock-on effect on overall wellbeing, and detract enjoyment and positivity from the working day, and from life in general. Between low energy levels and lack of exercise, commuters can experience poor fitness levels and the various problems that result from them.
Depression and Anxiety
The average London-based commute ends up filling almost three hours of a person’s day on a full-time basis. Not only does this mean a great deal of a commuter’s life is spent in cramped, uncomfortable public transport situations, but it means that when they finally get home, they have far less leisure time to enjoy than the average worker who doesn’t have to commute. This presents far less opportunity to achieve a healthy work-life balance, which further aggravates depressive or anxious dispositions. The environment of public transport has also been found to cause anxiety, with commuters reporting much higher levels of anxiety than those who drive or walk to work. 55% of commuters reported feeling much more stressed as a direct result of their daily commute, as well as feeling a lower overall satisfaction with their quality of life.
Concentration and Work Performance
Commuting is a physically and mentally draining experience, so it is not surprising that when a commuter finally arrives at work, they are less equipped to give the day their all than their non-commuting counterparts. Particularly when combined with lack of proper nutrition and hydration, and heightened levels of anxiety and stress, commuters do not have the odds stacked in their favour when it comes to putting in a day of work to their highest standard. The stress of commuting can gradually chip away at a person’s work performance, causing them further issues with their boss and employers, and inevitably causing further stress. The physical, mental and performance-related impacts of these simultaneous factors can make the work environment a troubled one for a commuter, and be the root of many issues in the workplace.
Countering the Problems
Reports by the NHS recommend that there is a shared responsibility between employers, commuters and transport providers to make the working day easier for those who commute by public transport. Employers must prioritise the health and wellbeing of their employers, and where possible, introduce more flexible working arrangements. Working remotely part-time can be a great relief from the stresses of commuting, and the growth of the remote working trend is projected to play a significant role in easing the stresses experienced by commuters.
Meanwhile, commuters should be taking whatever steps possible to make their working day easier. Preparing nutritious meals at home and taking them to work is much healthier than picking up food on the go – as well as being much more cost efficient, while a good night’s sleep is essential. Alternative routes to work, or modes of transport, could be explored.
The Input of Doctors
Regardless of how much the problems are down to the work routine, anyone experiencing any of these issues as a result of their commute and stressful working day should seek medical advice. The above problems are often long-term, and slowly creep up on people without being recognised, and can have serious impact if left unattended.
If the medical professional you meet with is dismissive of your problems or incorrectly diagnoses them, this could have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to work. A doctor should look at a situation, and implement a plan to make a person’s lifestyle easier to manage and healthier. If you sustain an injury or condition as a result of a doctor’s misdiagnosis or lack of proper care, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
If you feel you have suffered as a direct result of inadequate medical care, you should seek legal advice. There are plenty of solicitors and law firms who specialise in cases of medical negligence and misdiagnosis, who can go through the process of claiming misdiagnosis compensation with you, and look at your case to see how viable court proceedings may be. They can advise you on what you can expect to gain from pursuing compensation, and ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process.