Manila’s traffic drains you emotionally, mentally, and physically
I planned to write about detoxing today, but yesterday’s nightmare of a ride compelled me to write about one of Metro Manila’s worst problems instead. You see, yesterday I was stuck in traffic for more than 3 hours at the southbound lane of East Service Road in Muntinlupa City. We were able to traverse a stretch of only over 2 kilometers in that span of time. That’s right: 2 kilometers in 3 hours. Even non-fit individuals can walk faster than that!! It felt like we were inching forward a total of one meter every couple of minutes or so. What made this ordeal even more shocking was the fact that it wasn’t rush hour, it wasn’t the weekend, it wasn’t a holiday, it wasn’t raining, and – as far as we can tell – there was no accident contributing to the pileup. Manila’s traffic is so bad it’s incredible.
Needless to say, plans were derailed and we had to submit to the fact that we were stuck where we were. I am still drained as of this writing. I feel so sorry for those who have to commute to work via East Service Road every single day. Imagine having to endure that ordeal daily. 🙁
Being stuck in a carmaggedon is a most unfortunate waste of time. If a trip that ordinarily only takes an hour stretches to three hours, imagine how much a loss of two hours can drastically reduce your quality of life. An additional two hours to your weekday can free you up to do any or a few of the following:
- Take an online course.
- Research on options for your next getaway.
- Read a book.
- Catch up on your favorite Netflix series.
- Organize your closet (or some other not-so-fun but completely necessary task).
- Go for a refreshing jog around the block.
- Join the neighborhood Zumba sessions.
- Call a friend.
- Go on a date.
- Bond with your baby.
- Help your kid with his homework.
- Cook a wonderful meal for your family.
- Sleep more!
If time is gold, then how much personal gold have you already wasted in Metro Manila’s traffic?
Here are a couple of posts that talk a bit about the disadvantages of longer commutes and getting stuck in traffic:
The longer the commute, the bigger the health risk
There was a study published in 2012 at the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that aimed to examine the association between commuting distance, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and metabolic risk indicators. The research involved 4297 residents in 12 Texas counties and it gathered the following information from each of the individuals: commuting distances, body mass indices, and metabolic risk, including waist circumference, fasting glucose and lipid levels, and blood pressure. They also recorded the participants’ physical activity for the past three months. The results? Long commutes negatively impact one’s fitness and health. Those who drove longer distances had lower cardiorespiratory fitness, greater body mass index and circumference, and higher blood pressure. What’s also bad is that all these factors are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes, as well as some cancers.
Takeaway: The longer the time you spend in your commute, the less healthy you become and the more at risk you are of getting really sick.
Traffic fumes and brain cell damage
Some public health studies and lab experiments also suggest that the traffic fumes we’re exposed to adversely affect our mental capacity, intelligence, and emotional stability. Is the tailpipe exhaust from our cars injuring our brain cells? A November 2011 Washington Street Journal article says that the collective data, though inconclusive, is worrisome. Consider some of these findings: breathing regular city air with high levels of traffic exhaust for 90 days can change the way genes turn on or off among the elderly. Men and women who’ve been exposed to higher levels of traffic-related particles, meanwhile, have memory and reasoning problems that add five years to their mental age. Kids aren’t spared either: those in areas with high levels of emissions scored more poorly on intelligence tests and were more prone to depression, anxiety, and attention problems.
Takeaway: More research is needed, but the evidence thus far suggests that air pollution can harm our brains.
We may be currently stuck in gridlock hell, but I don’t want our country to be stuck with this problem forever. I don’t want to be resigned to the fact that we’re getting sick and idling our lives away on the expressway. I choose to believe that there is a way out of this mess. Hopefully, the government’s plans to improve our public transport system and infrastructure will help alleviate this sorry situation in the near future.
How do you manage traffic-related stress? I’d love to know!
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