Volume 36 (1998) Issue 3 Pages 209-217
To investigate the possible effects of long commuting time and extensive overtime on daytime cardiac autonomic activity, the short-term heart rate variability (HRV) both at supine rest and at standing rest of 223 male white-collar workers in the Tokyo Megalopolis was examined. Workers with a one-way commute of 90min or more exhibited decreased vagal activity at supine rest and increased sympathetic activity regardless of posture, and those doing overtime of 60h/month or more exhibited decreased vagal activity and increased sympathetic activity at standing rest. These findings suggest that chronic stress or fatigue resulting from long commuting time or extensive overtime caused these individuals to be in a sympathodominant state. Although these shifts in autonomic activities are not direct indicators of disease, it can be hypothesized that they can induce cardiovascular abnormalities or dysfunctions related to the onset of heart disease. Assessment of the daily and weekly variations in HRV as a function of daily life activities (such as working, commuting, sleeping, and exercising) among workers in Asia-Pacific urban areas might be one way of studying the possible effects of long commuting time, and extensive overtime, on health.