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5 ways traffic is bad for you

28 November 2013, 08:28

Abuja - Spending hours in traffic every day is extremely bad for your physical health and your psychological well-being. We asked specialists why it is better to live closer to work and cut down on the commute.

Your eyes

During peak traffic, we tend to blink less while concentrating, optometrist Michelle Minnie said. That makes our eyes dry and tired. The dust and smoke particles can also make oour eyes red and sensitive.

Minnie also said the reflective surfaces on the road could be damaging to the frontal surface of the eye. Optometrist Yda van der Post added that the ultraviolet light could lead to a variety of problems, including cataracts.

Advice: Wear a good pair of sunglasses.

Your back

While driving, your back is prone to take on the unhealthy C-shape instead of the healthy S-shape, Janet Viljoen, a South African physiologist said.

She also said people tend to sit at an angle which might lead to back pain.

Driving with one arm stretched out over the steering wheel could also lead to shoulder and neck pain, Viljoen warned.

Advice: Place a cushion, a rolled up towel or a Pilates ball between the seat and the small of your back

Your lungs

In traffic, we are constantly exposed to harmful exhaust fumes like carbon monoxide, Richard van Zyl-Smit, a lung specialist from Cape Town in South Africa, said.

He also said the small particles in fumes can exacerbate emphysema and asthma and hamper the intake of oxygen into the lungs.

Advice: Simply try to minimise the time you spend in traffic. If you can’t avoid it, keep your windows closed and avoid sitting behind vehicles that eject excessive fumes.

Your blood pressure

Sitting in traffic ramps up your stress level, which in turn negatively affects your blood pressure, Vash Mungal-Singh, the head of the South African Heart Foundation, said.

He also said there is a correlation between exposure to pollution on the road and heart disease.

On top of that, smokers also tend to smoke more because they are frustrated or bored, Mungal-Singh added.

Advice: Try calming yourself by listening to your favourite music or audio books.

Your mood

In traffic frustration can often boil over and it is extremely psychologically damaging, Henning Gericke, a clinical psychologist in Pretoria, South Africa said.

In the long term, it can lead to anxiety problems and even depression, he said.

Advice: Adjust your attitude. Instead of becoming frustrated and angry, view the time you spend in traffic as valuable alone time.

- Beeld


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