New research from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has found that we’re consuming a staggering 800 extra calories A WEEK thanks to stressful commutes, as well as exercising less. Because, let’s be honest, how many people can face sweating at the gym after an hour squashed between armpits on a busy overground?
A poll of 1,500 people, conducted by Populus, found that two-fifths exercised less thanks to their commute, a similar proportion said they slept less, and about one-third reported increased snacking or fast food consumption.
They’re shocking statistics, and yet generally this news doesn’t surprise me at all. I know from personal experience how unappealing any form of fitness can seem after the ordeal of a commute, which is why I always have to exercise either at 7am before leaving for work, or straight after I exit the office and before I commute home.
As for the food thing – well, I don’t commute out of London, but I can well imagine that if you’re leaving work completely starving at 7pm, with the prospect of a 50-minute train ride out to Surrey, the allure of a Caffe Nero muffin is just too much to resist.
Here lies another problem – the food available in stations is, in general, just so damn bad for you. Sure, there’s the odd banana around and, if you’re lucky, an M&S selling salads, but most places revolve around the unhealthy trio of baguettes, baked goods and burgers.
So what should they do to tackle this? Well, rail officials have said they are carrying out an ‘upgrade plan’ to make rail stations more healthy, such as having comfier trains with more seats. But that’s not really what we need is it?
I think the real problem here is that many Londoners spend almost their entire day either commuting or working. I’m lucky that I have a job with fairly regular hours – many people I know, working in fields such as law and accountancy, clock 11-hour working days as standard. Book-end this with an hour-long commute each day and it’s obvious why exercise doesn’t get a look in (and that’s before we even talk about the G&T and crisps gulped down on the journey home).
Ideally, all bosses would just shut the doors at 5pm and tell everyone to bugger off to the gym, but that’s obviously not going to happen. What workplaces could improve on, however, is offering lunchtime exercise classes, on-site gyms or discounted gym membership and sports clubs to get colleagues working up a sweat around their office hours.
That, or can we magically produce cheaper house prices, so we don’t all have to commute so bloody far in the first place?!