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

Updated: May 03, 2021

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

Ninety percent of Americans drive to work every day. Although 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.

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.

New-Study-Shows-a-Shocking-Link-Between-Driving-and-Your-MentalAnze Mulec/shutterstock

As it turns out, stimulating activity stimulates your brain, while non-stimulating activity, well, doesn’t stimulate your brain.

“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 Americans, the average commute time was recorded at approximately 26.5 minutes according to the 2015 United States Census.

And 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, and if you happen to have free time on your commute, be sure to use it wisely.

Source: The Sunday Times of London

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest