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Long Commutes Drain Your Brain Power

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If extended commutes weren’t physically and emotionally draining enough, a new study has determined that daily long commutes actually deplete the brain power of middle-aged drivers.

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According to Jonathan Leake, Science Editor of The Sunday Times of London, the scientific study aimed to identify the results of sedentary habits on the brain; 500,000 Britons aged 37-73 years participated in the five-year long study, took intelligence and memory tests, and allowed their lifestyles to be scientifically scrutinized.

What did they discover? According to Leake, “Two key results came from the study. One was that the 93,000 people who drove for more than two to three hours a day typically had lower brainpower before the research began. The other was that, over the following five years, their brainpower kept on declining—and did so faster than for people who did little or no driving.”

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Kishan Bakrania, a medical epidemiologist at Leicester University, explained to The Times that the study’s parameters were a good representative of life’s changes. “Cognitive decline is measurable over five years because it can happen fast in middle-aged and older people. This is associated with lifestyle factors such as smoking and bad diet—and now with time spent driving,” Bakrania said.

Bakrania also told The Times that not all sedentary activities reduce mental power—using a computer for no more than three hours a day actually improved it. So, why, then is driving such a brain drain? “Driving causes stress and fatigue, with studies showing the links between them and cognitive decline,” Bakrania said.

So, what should drivers do to safeguard their brains from the damaging effects of a long commute? According to Leake, scientists recommend limiting hours behind the wheel and factoring in activities that ramp up their brain power, “such as socializing.”

News Source: The Sunday Times of London