Is Your Daily Commute Harming Your Health?

Is your daily commute harming your health?

The daily commute to and from work can be incredibly tiring and frustrating, not to mention time-consuming. But could it also be harming your health?

Well, the research from numerous scientists and health experts from around the world certainly suggests so. From the hours of inactivity to the passive inhalation of vehicle exhaust fumes, your daily commute to and from work could be the most damaging aspect of your life as far as your health is concerned.

How is my commute damaging my health?

Millions of us commute to and from work every day. It can be a stressful experience with the average total commute being 56 minutes nationwide. However, in London we spend 1.5 hours commuting to and from work everyday.

Here are these commuting habits can harm your health:

Diet – If you’re out of the house early ready for your lengthy commute to work, and back late, it’s likely you are cutting time from somewhere. Often, it’s your diet that suffers. Evidence has shown that many people use their daily commute as a time to consume snacks, from unhealthy coffees and bacon sandwiches in the morning to chocolate, crisps and soft drinks laden with sugar in the evenings.

Mental health – An often under-estimate effect of a daily commute the damage it can do to someone’s mental health. Long term tiredness can make you feel stressed and irritable and the stresses of the journey can also have a toil on your mental health.

Exhaust fumes – There is evidence to suggest that you will breathe in more pollution sitting in a car during heavy traffic than you would if you are outside. Dirty exhaust fumes get sucked into the car through the air filters and get trapped in the car. The Royal College of Physicians state that pollution is responsible for 40,000 early deaths per year In the UK.

Wasted time – Finally, with so much time spent travelling to and from the workplace, it’s often exercising that is cut-back to allow time for the daily routine. Research has shown that those performing a daily commute to their workplace are likely to have a less active lifestyle away from the office.

Can I make my commute healthy?

We now know that our commute can be incredibly unhealthy for our body and mind, but what can we do about it?

Cycle or walk to work – This may not be an option for everyone, but if possible, why not explore the option of walking or cycling to work, certainly during the warmer months of the year. Many employers now offer a cycle to work scheme which can help cover some of the cost of buying a bicycle, for example, while many modern office blocks also have shower and changing facilities for staff that need them. So, if you’re within a reasonable distance of your workplace, leave the car at home and get your day off to a healthy start.

Even if you’re a little unfit, or based too far from the office to cycle or walk, see if you can get off the bus a few stops earlier or park a little further away from the office so you can start building in some exercise to your daily routine.

Work flexible – An increasing number of employers are now offering staff flexible working. At the very least, this should allow you to vary the hours you work a little which can reduce your commuting time (travelling outside of peak times) and vitally, giving you more time in the evenings or morning to be more active. You could fit in a run, go for a swim or join a gym. It may even be that you can work from home for one or two days of the week, giving you less time commuting and more time to explore getting out and doing some extra activity.

Speak to employers – Here in the UK, the past decade has seen companies begin to implement health at work policies. In addition to cycle to work schemes, fruit in the office and shower facilities, they may have benefits in the form of reduced gym memberships or similar. At the very least, ask your employers what they may be able to do to help counter your unhealthy commute.

Improve your diet – For some people, there will be no alternative options when it comes to commuting, so it’s a case of doing what you can. If you drive, make sure you have no unhealthy snacks available to you. Try and get up a few minutes earlier and grab a proper breakfast, or if you must snack, fill your car with healthier options such as fruit, nuts and seeds.

Other Actions to Take

You can also try these simple measures when you get to work to try and counteract the detrimental effects of the commute:

Always take the stairs – If you work a couple of floors up in a building, try cutting down on using the elevator and take the stairs. Even if you’re located on the 30th floor, start by getting out on the 28th and walking up two levels by stairs. These small changes are a good start, and you can increase the floors you cover by stairs as and when you get fitter.

Don’t ride the escalators, walk them – If you’re getting the train to work and use escalators daily, then try walking up and down them rather than simply riding them.

Go speak to someone – rather than calling a colleague on the telephone, get in to the habit of going to speak to them at their desk. This tiny change can not only help your fitness and health, it could also help working relationships and communication!

With our commutes getting increasingly longer, it’s important to be aware of the potential adverse effects that our health can suffer and how to try and mitigate some of these ill-effects.

The Smoke and Mirrors of Health Care Reform for the Elderly

I’m deeply concerned that the American public, especially our nation’s elders, will be relying on our government to provide long term care services they’ll never see. They’ll only see the “smoke and mirrors” of Health Care Reform.

Our nation’s seniors are the most vulnerable segment of the U.S. population; vulnerable both health wise and financially. They’re silently discovering the savings they thought would be enough is not enough. They’re silently fearful of running out of money with no one to care for them as they become more frail. The silence is about to become deafening.

Regrettably, when Health Care Reform proudly announced New Long Term Care Services, it discouraged many American’s from purchasing Long Term Care Insurance.

The New York Times reported on ‘Options Expand for Affordable Long-Term Care’ THE NEW OLD AGE. The Associated Press announced ‘New Health Care Law Has Benefits for Seniors’. Point being, the casual reader was relieved to hear their government will “take care of them” when they need long term care services. We now know that is not about to happen.

Fortunately our representatives in Washington discovered that Health Care Reforms answer to the problem of Long Term Care, “CLASS”, (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act) legislation would have been fiscally unsound. $70 billion in premiums that was expected to be raised for the new “long term care” program would have been counted as “deficit reduction”. The long term care benefits it was intended to finance were assumed not to materialize in the first 10 years. However, that money was not accounted for anywhere in the legislation.

The new legislation proposed to “trim” $463 billion from Medicare. Yet Medicare is currently having trouble balancing its books today. Yet, why does the health care bill tell us Medicare can operate more cheaply going forward without the accompanying reforms?

Our national media gave enormous fanfare to the CLASS ACT when it passed. Unfortunately the media has given the CLASS ACT’s demise little attention. Now what?

Projections show that the federal deficit is expected to exceed $700 billion annually over the next decade. This essentially will double the national and $900 billion represents interest on previous debt. Would the CFO of any major corporation in the United States allow the company he worked for to end up in this type of financial position? Absolutely not.

Our officials in Congress have been elected to protect the best interests of the American people. “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, and once again printing more currency, has become our government’s mantra for the future. Yet the magnitude of the mismanagement of America’s purse strings has now reached an unconscionable state.

The United States of America cannot continue to mismanage its financial future. Future Congresses will have to deliver a multitude of future reforms and, regrettably, history tells us THAT will never happen. Proposals for financing health reform were based on more “smoke and mirrors”. The “Cadillac” tax is scheduled to begin in 2018.

The health care legislation that has been forced on each and every one of us is known to be fiscally unsound. Where do we go from here? It’s too easy to point the finger at the President and his administration. Yet Congress owns the responsibility of passing Health Care Legislation. And THAT is the problem.

The 535 voting members of Congress shared the responsibility equally. If one clear thinking, intelligent, honorable Congressman had the entire responsibility for Health Care Reform, he or she would not have forced a fiscally unsound Health Care Reform Bill down our throats.

Now let’s again evaluate how Health Care Reform will work against our senior citizens.

A most recent government report identified that in 2000 there were 1.8 million available nursing home beds. As the year 2010 came to a close, there were 1.7 million nursing home beds; a net 5 percent reduction in available beds. And, there are no new nursing homes being built.

Today there’s less than 1.5 million Americans confined to nursing homes. Reportedly 10 percent of these nursing homes are operating under bankruptcy protection. It’s well known that most of these facilities are understaffed and many don’t have competent help.

Next, let’s consider that the Alzheimer’s Association tells us the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s after age 85 is 50 percent. By 2030, they tell us that the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.7 million, a 50 percent increase from the 5.2 million age 65 and older currently affected.

The logical question I must ask is “if we cannot take adequate care of 1.5 million people today, how can we possibly take care of 7.7 million people in 2030?” We cannot. More simply put, when you or your spouse or your parent has Alzheimer’s, there is no place for them to go. Not to be cruel, but if you ever think for a moment about taking in an aged parent with Alzheimer’s into your home, please think again. Ask any caregiver who’s been through it. It’s GUARANTEED to destroy any families’ peace of mind and harmony.

Why aren’t our political leaders actively working on solutions? Where’s the outcry? Regrettably our political leaders only align themselves with solvable problems.

America’s seniors became more hopeful reading that Health Reform will help them with added Long Term Care services. And we now know THAT is not going to happen. There are no plans in place to help our nation’s seniors think they’ll receive the comfort and dignity of adequate long term care services. What’s worse is the silence shared by all our political leaders. The silence is now deafening.

Now there’s newfound hope on the horizon. We have a new President election just starting to evolve. What the Republican and Democratic candidates have to say about our nations seniors need for long term care services? What do they think about the need for 7.7 million Americans with Alzheimer’s that need a place to spend the night and be cared for when we can’t take care of 1.5 million seniors today?

The national media needs to start reporting that our nation’s seniors will have no place to spend the night when they become too old or frail to take care of themselves. Then the upcoming election presents one more opportunity for our political leaders to pay attention to our nation’s elderly and their need for long term care services.

Copyright 2016

Allan Checkoway, RHU

The Health Reform Law Provides New Career Opportunities in the Health Services Sector!

The Health Reform Law signed March 23, 2010, will increase demand in all areas of health care in America. The intent of the law was to create a virtual universal health care system in America that could accommodate all the people. Few people are able to pay cash for medical services; most of us rely on health insurance to cover our medical expenses. Prior to the signing of the Health Reform bill, health care insurance hasn’t been widely available to all Americans and this has caused many of us to put off early treatment until the ailment assumes critical proportions. When it does, we must then go to emergency rooms, with our then advanced disease. The emergency room is the most expensive type of medical care, and one of the chief reasons Americans are spending a stunning $2 trillion a year on medical services. Making health insurance accessible and affordable to all Americans is the answer to this problem.

Being insured, people will be able to seek early treatment, and preventative medicine can thus curtail the more expensive procedures that are the root cause of the uncontrolled growth of medical care cost. The law has already taken effect and the ramifications, in terms of numbers of patients, are about to descend on a health services industry that is ill prepared to handle the increased volume.

Currently, health services in the U.S. are barely able to keep up with the 150 million employer-insured and the 40 million elderly citizens receiving Medicare. By 2019, the ranks of the employer-insured are expected to increase by 9 million, and Medicare will take on another 12 million people. Exchanges, a vehicle that will provide low cost insurance to small businesses and individuals, will add an additional 25 million to the rolls. From 2010 to 2019, approximately 46 million new people will be added to the health care load. Does our current health services industry have what’s needed to accommodate this relatively sudden growth?

Most of the burden of this increase will fall on the primary care component of the health services industry. According to the Academy of Family Physicians, by 2020, the demand will far outweigh the supply of these professionals. 40,000 new primary care professionals is what the demand will require. At that time, we’ll have a situation in which nearly everyone can afford medical treatment, while yet fewer professionals are available to provide it.

To meet the expected increase in medical services demands, the new Health Law has allocated billions to the education of new health care professionals. Even if they were to get started immediately, most would not be fully trained until from four to six years hence. To get the ball rolling, the law has provided funds for education in the health services field, has made scholarships and grants available, and is set to support professionals in whatever continuing studies they may need to handle the new demand. Demand over supply will also inevitably increase monetary compensation for available health care professionals. For those considering health services as a career, a wide open field awaits them with all the help they will need to establish their new careers.

Attention is also being focused on how and where health care may be delivered. The law is allocating $11 billion for the creation of new health centers in our communities. Work is underway to promote nurse-operated clinics. Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants will take on new roles, having increased responsibilities. Expect to see new and different medical facilities working in coordination, in order to optimize the use of health service personnel.

Thanks to the Health Reform Law, the health services industry is about to become the most promising career path available. If you’re considering what career choice to follow, now is the time to look into the health services industry. Now is your chance to be in demand, for a lifetime!