Lead investigator Christine M. Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis and colleagues studied 4,297 residents who lived and worked in 11 Texas counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth or Austin metropolitan areas.
Cardiorespiratory fitness, body mass index and metabolic risk variables including waist circumference, fasting triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood pressure, were measured and participants were asked about physical activity.
The study, scheduled to be published in the June issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found those who drove longer distances to work reported less frequent participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity and decreased cardiorespiratory fitness and had greater BMI, waist circumference and blood pressure.
The association remained when physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness were adjusted for, although to a lesser degree for BMI and waist circumference.
Employees who commuted more than 15 miles to work were less likely to meet recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity, and had a higher likelihood of obesity, while commuting distances greater than 10 miles were associated with high blood pressure.
"Both BMI and waist circumference were associated with commuting distance even after adjustment of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness, suggesting that a longer commuting distance may lead to a reduction in overall energy expenditure," Hoehner said in a statement.