There’s a Shocking (and Scary) Link Between Driving and Your Mental Health, According to Science

You might want to reconsider your long work commute after reading this.

Man driving on long commutePhoto: Shutterstock

Why Your Long Commute Is Wrecking Your Brain

Roughly 15.4 million Canadians commute to work every dayAlthough working from home is on the rise, if you’re lacking for topics of conversation at a party, groaning about your commute is a pretty safe bet. A safe, bland conversation bet, and a shared experience which might be putting your very intelligence in jeopardy.

According to a recent study, driving for more than two hours each day can steadily decrease the IQ of middle-aged drivers. The Sunday Times of London detailed the study, which looked the lifestyle choices of over 500,000 Britons between the ages of 37 and 73. (Learn these psychologist-approved secrets to a happy commute.)

When looking at the data of the 93,000 participants who drove more than two to three hours per day, the study found a noticeable drop off in brainpower, measured by intelligence and memory tests. The study found similar results with participants who partook in several hours similarly sedentary activity, like television watching.

As it turns out, stimulating activity stimulates your brain, while non-stimulating activity, well, doesn’t stimulate your brain. (Every car owner should know these winter driving rules.)

“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,” Kishran Bakrania, a medical epidemiologist at the University of Leicester told the Times.

Fortunately for most Canadians, the average commute time was recorded at approximately 25 minutes, according to the 2011 National Household SurveyAnd if you think that the way to pump up your IQ is through brain games, think again. Just try and avoid those long hours on the road if possible.

Here are 7 Tricks to Make Yourself Stop Texting and Driving.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest