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Culture

Commute stress out of control?

New research finds that commuters' stress is made worse by a lack of control.

That road rage you feel on the way home can hit surprisingly high levels, new research suggests.

A study says commuters can experience greater stress than what fighter pilots going into battle or riot policemen feel, according to a report Tuesday by the BBC.

Psychologist David Lewis compared the heart rate and blood pressure of 125 commuters with those of pilots and police officers in training exercises. Lewis said commuters' anxiety is exacerbated by lack of control over their situation, according to the BBC.

"The difference is that a riot policeman or a combat pilot have things they can do to combat the stress that is being triggered by the event," Lewis said in the BBC report. "But the commuter, particularly on a train, cannot do anything about it at all."

Working from home some of the time is one antidote to stressful commuting. The number of people who work away from the office at least one day every couple of weeks is just less than 30 million this year, up about 10 percent from last year, estimates JALA International, a consulting firm focused on telecommuting.

Allowing employees to telecommute is a step a number of technology firms are taking as they give more workers flexibility in the way they do their jobs.

Another report this week suggests that stress can lead to health problems. Researchers found that severe emotional distress--like that caused by divorce, the loss of a job or caring for an ill child--may accelerate the aging of the body's cells at the genetic level, The New York Times reported Tuesday.