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Learn to lessen the stress of extreme commuting

Wednesday - 1/11/2012, 9:26am  ET

WASHINGTON -- D.C. commuters are familiar with the stress that accompanies a long drive, but a new study shows that extreme commuting can cause more than just stress.

Extreme commuting, defined as traveling 90 minutes or more each way to work, can affect blood pressure, mood, overall health and life satisfaction, according to a new study by the University of California Transportation Center.

A story by MSN.com says 3.4 million Americans have a commute topping 90 minutes each way, which they say is more than triple the national average commute of 25.5 minutes.

More, MSN says, these extreme commuters are the fastest growing segment of drivers on America today, with numbers doubling since the 1990s.

Another swedish study found that long commutes can affect the health of your marriage.

MSN points out the driving force behind the trend is what they call "drive till they qualify" -- which means people are willing to travel further to work if it means better schools and cheaper housing.

The problem, however, researchers say is that there isn't much people can do about the length of their commute short of moving or changing jobs, which isn't often a possibility.

To ease the stress of long daily drives, MSN offers a few suggestions.

Start the morning routine the night before. Set out your clothes and prepare your briefcase and family lunches in the the evening. Then, go to bed early to allow more time in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast and interact with your family.

Also, exercise regularly. Because commuting involves sitting for long periods of time, it's important to get muscles moving. Added to that, joining a gym near your office may allow you to plan workouts when traffic is at high volume so you can plan your commute during easier travel times.

Carpooling or using public transportation allows you to rest your brain during drive times, which can lesson stress.

Finally, consider taking different routes so your daily struggle isn't always the same.

To read more, check out MSN.com's story, Is your extreme commute causing road rage?

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)