Commuter health

Over 24 million people commute to work each day in England and Wales – the majority of which are utilising largely non-active methods, such as cars, trains or buses. For many, this journey is synonymous with stress, frustration and anxiety. What is the impact on our health and wellbeing?

Our report, Health in a Hurry, highlights the impact of travelling to and from work by rail, bus and car (passive commuting) on the public’s health and wellbeing with longer commute times being associated with increased stress, higher blood pressure and BMI, and reduced time available for health-promoting activities such as cooking, exercising and sleeping.

Key points

  • Commuters spend an average of 56 minutes travelling to work each day, with research indicating that this has increased in recent years
  • The benefits of active travel are well-established, and there is growing evidence demonstrating the detrimental impact of lengthy, non-active commutes on our health and wellbeing
  • Research indicates that commuting can reduce mental wellbeing, negatively impact physical health such as raising blood pressure and also, reduce the time available for health promoting activities, such as physical activity
  • Inactivity poses a major challenge to the public’s health and we must encourage as many as possible to adopt a more active commute
  • For those however, that are restricted to non-active commuting, we must ensure that this is a more health promoting, less stressful experience

Take action


Over half of commuters

say the commute increases their stress levels

Over one-third

say the commute decreases the time they spend sleeping

More than two in five

say the commute decreases the time they spend being physically activity

What's the impact of the rush hour commute on your health and wellbeing?





Our calls to action

  • Greater adoption of flexible and remote working and move away from the 9-to-5 culture
  • Department for Transport to introduce ‘health and wellbeing’ as a specification in transport franchises
  • Greater restrictions on unhealthy food and drink outlets in stations
  • Routinely publish information on passenger capacity on trains and buses
  • Declassification of first class carriages on all commuter trains