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Here's How Many Hours You'll Spend Stuck in Traffic During Your Life

Sorry, but a big chunk of your days will be wasted behind the wheel.

Whether you're working on an assembly line or sitting in a corner office, odds are you spend at least part of your day commuting. As a result, you're also likely to spend a good portion of your commute time cursing the cars in front of you as you wait in traffic.

The United States Census Bureau reports that the average American spends 26 minutes getting to work, a figure that's increased by nearly five minutes since the early '80s. For those working 50 weeks a year, that means nine whole days will be spent commuting. However, for those in more heavily-trafficked metropolitan areas, the number of hours wasted behind the wheel is even higher.

According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Scorecard, the average American commuting to and from an urban center will spend 42 hours sitting in traffic every year. (If you worked for 35 years and this remained constant, you'd be spending more than 61 days stuck behind the wheel. Oy.) While spending nearly two days waiting for the minivan in front of you to decide if it's actually switching lanes is bad enough, worse yet is how much that figure has grown. Back in 2000, the average urban American could expect to spend just 37 hours in traffic. In 1982, traffic stole just 18 hours a year away from American commuters.

While everything from urban sprawl to decaying infrastructure to the number of cars on the road contributes to our lengthy commutes, the outcome of all that time in the car is scarier still. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that study subjects who commuted by car on a daily basis gained nearly twice as much weight over a five-year period as those who didn't have a car-based commute.

Luckily, there's hope yet: a 2015 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that 24 percent of workers did some or all of their work from home. Better yet, those numbers continue to rise, meaning those lucky enough to work remotely may stave off the spare tire. Or, if you can, take public transit—and while you're at it, learn the 7 Ways to Make Your Commute the Best Part of Your Day.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more