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Are you driving yourself crazy?

Long commutes to work take heavy mental, physical toll, experts say

Commuting can be a pain in the neck — not to mention the back, knees and heart.

Ask 65-year-old Ben Hornstein, and he’ll say commuting is bad for health. “It really taxes the mind and the body,” he said.

The Concord resident has been commuting to the FedEx Freight Service Center in Stockton for seven years. Before that, he made a daily trek to San Jose and back.

The nearly 150-mile round trip between Concord and Stockton can take two to three hours one way, sometimes keeping Hornstein in his Toyota Camry for six hours a day.

“What bothers me is my knees and legs; that’s what really gets you sometimes,” Hornstein said. “I’ve got some arthritis, and if I stay in one place too long, it’s painful.”

Hornstein is one of the 3.3 million Americans who “stretch commute” more than 50 miles to work, according to a 2004 U.S. Department of Transportation study.

“It affects people’s health and family life,” said commute management expert Dave Rizzo of Fullerton. “In the winter, there are some people who never see their house in the daylight. It gets to you after a while. It’s very depressing.”

Called “Dr. Roadmap,” Rizzo is the author of “Survive the Drive: How to Beat Freeway Traffic in Southern California.” He says studies show that stretch commutes can lead to mental and physical problems, including high blood pressure and increased heart rate and stress levels.

Contra Costa Times

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