How Driving A Car Is More Unhealthy Than Smoking

By Janice Larsen
Updated April 10, 2015
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How Driving A Car Is More Unhealthy Than SmokingWe all know that smoking can kill you. That message has been drummed into us enough times that smoking is not nearly as common in the United States as it used to be. Did you realize that driving a car can be even more unhealthy than smoking? Here are some ways that driving can be bad for your health.

1.) More Driving Leads To Less Exercise.

People who drive more also walk less. Walking is something that our bodies are designed to do, and this form of exercise is very beneficial. Experts say that we should take 10,000 steps every day to stay healthy, but people who drive a lot generally get only 1,000 steps in. Not only do people drive to the store instead of walking, but they also try to get the closest parking space, so they don't even need to walk across the parking lot. It's a shame, because walking can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve mood, build stronger bones, and reduce weight gain. Drivers who no longer walk much lose all of those health benefits.

2.) Long Drive Times Increase Obesity And Blood Pressure.

Spending a lot of time commuting by car each day means that it is harder for people to get the exercise they need. Rush hour commutes are also stressful, raising anxiety and frustration levels. The combination of these is bad for your health. A scientist from the University of British Columbia, Lawrence Frank, has determined that each 30 minutes you spend in the car daily makes you 3 percent more likely to become obese. A study from Washington University found that long commutes led to more obesity, higher blood pressure, and greater chances for heart disease.

3.) You Breathe Polluted Air.

Cars account for a great deal of the overall air pollution in our cities, and this is directly related to asthma and other diseases. You are most exposed to this fine particulate pollution when you are driving on congested roads. A researcher from the University of Southern California, Scott Fruin, did a study on toxic molecules that penetrate cell walls and spread through your body. He found that the pollution people inhale during their commute time could be the worst thing that happens to their body on a typical day. Los Angeles drivers spend an average of 1.5 hours per day on the road, and during that time breathe in 33 to 45% of the harmful airborne toxins they receive.

4.) Higher Rate Of Unhealthy Habits.

An Australian study did a correlation of average driving times with various unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices. The researchers' findings showed an association between longer driving times and higher rates of smoking, insufficient sleep, inadequate exercise, obesity, and lessened physical and mental health. People who spent two hours or more behind the wheel each day had the strongest association.

5.) Greater Chance Of Car Accidents.

The more time you spend on the road, the greater your chances of being involved in a traffic accident, where you could face injury or even death. If the health risks from driving don't kill you, an accident definitely could.

* Disclaimer:
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.