An Interview with Maria Leglault, M.E.S.
Whether you are dropping kids to school, driving to the local superstore, going to your full-time or part-time job, commuting is an important activity we do as working women on a daily basis. To understand more about the new trends in commuting and the implications of it on our lives, Corporita.com met with Maria Legault, M.E.S.
Q. As the most environmentally conscious expert we have interviewed so far, what is your personal position on commuting to work?
A. In my youth, I swore that I would not drive for more than one hour to reach a job. The solution seemed simple: once I got a job, I would move residences.
I currently find myself facing a whole new set of considerations as I commute for my career. All told, I am sitting in the car for at least one hour a day – a habit which has physical, economic, psychological, and environmental implications.
Q: What are the physical implications of commuting for a career?
A. We have all been well-versed in the adverse effects of getting into our cars in the morning, sitting all day long working on our computers and then coming home by car to watch T.V. Such a lifestyle is almost akin to the combined negative health impacts of smoking, drinking, and eating fatty foods – even if you exercise according to Ubelacker, 2015. And experts at Mayo Clinic, 2015 recommend stop-gap measures to combat our culture of sitting; like encouraging people to stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch, trying a standing desk, walk laps with colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room.
These could be termed as the chronic, long-term health impacts of sedentary commuting for a career. But there are also the short-term health effects of accidents and road stress.
Q: Are there other implications of commuting for a career than the physical effects?
A. Of course; there are many studies of the economic and well-being costs of, but a 2011 study by Swedish researchers does shed some light on a few important facts to keep in mind about commuting (Jaffe, 2011). The study suggests that people who drive or take public transit for more than an hour to work can rank as healthier when compared to those who commuted for half an hour as they are more likely to be navigating through tranquil countryside, rather than congested city streets.
The study also emphasizes that it is not the commute which makes the person, but rather the person who makes the commute. That is to say – people who are physically and psychologically fit can withstand the rigors of commuting in the long-term. This leaves everyone who has no choice but to commute into their chosen career every day with a grain of hope.
Q: What about the environmental implications of commuting for a career?
A. Commuting by car and even public transit is an underlying problem above and beyond its negative health impacts for humans. Many of our environmental problems are based solely on the division between our work spaces and our living places – we buy multiple cars, we construct roads and infrastructure, and we consume copious amounts of energy. All this causes tremendous negative impacts on our environment.
Q. How can working women deal with the implications of a long commute?
A. My top five recommendations for working women to help deal with a longer commute are:
- Stretching or taking a walk during the work day, particularly over a lunch break;
- Listening to audio books from the library during the drive, as the public libraries in Canada have excellent selections of audio books and you can make the time more productive by getting through your reading list;
- Investigating car pool options with coworkers and friends, as there are very often people headed in the same direction as you for work, and you can reduce your environmental impact in this way if no public transit options are available;
- If your workplace is conducive to flexible hours, avoid rush times and travel during off-peak hours for a less stressful and shorter commute; and lastly,
- If your workplace allows you to work from home for a few days a week or per month, consider working off a home office to avoid your commute entirely!
Originally posted 2016-02-19 01:22:08.