MANILA, Philippines–Stuck in chaotic traffic again? Read a good book or listen to classical music to protect your heart and ease the stress you get from traversing Metro Manila’s roads daily.
The Department of Health (DOH) gave this advice to commuters, noting that enduring traffic jams every day would give them a higher chance of
developing noncommunicable diseases, particularly hypertension and related heart problems.
“If you’re stuck in traffic, read a nice book or listen to classical music. That’s what we doctors advise. Find ways to relieve the stress and be relaxed,” said Dr. Teodoro Herbosa, health undersecretary and DOH-National Capital Region director.
Herbosa said it was important that the government promptly deal with the traffic woes in the metropolis to protect the health and welfare of the public.
“It is important that we solve the problem immediately because it is also an additional health risk to our citizens,” Herbosa told reporters in an interview.
Citing the large body of literature on the negative impact of traffic congestion on public health, Herbosa said clogged roads increased the chances of commuters experiencing severe stress that could lead to hypertension or heart attacks.
“It has been proven in medical science that if you live in a city where there is more traffic, the incidents of heart attacks are higher because of stress. So, it is really important that we solve this,” he said.
According to Harvard Health Publications, the release of stress hormones, such as epinephrine, into the bloodstream, increases the amount of cholesterol that the body makes.
Blood pressure rises and platelets become stickier when the sympathetic nervous system is provoked, it said.
“Stickier platelets make blood clots more likely, while ongoing high blood pressure damages the heart, blood vessels and other organs, and greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease,” it added.
Learn to cope
While concrete solutions have yet to be drawn up to ease traffic in Metro Manila, Herbosa said commuters must learn how to cope.
Instead of worrying about how the traffic is going to make them late for meetings, they must divert their attention to good books or classical music, which has been shown in several studies to lower stress.
The health undersecretary said commuters must go to their appointments early.
“If you have a meeting, leave earlier than usual. Move early so we can adapt and be stress-free,” he added.
Last week, Malacañang said it was exploring ways to ease traffic in Metro Manila following a major gridlock on the southbound lane of North Luzon Expressway and on roads leading to the Port of Manila on Sept. 5.
Truck ban lifted
The traffic was blamed on the truck ban imposed by the local government of Manila.
The deteriorating Metro Rail Transit 3 service also aggravated traffic woes, with many commuters lining up for hours just to get on a train on Edsa.
The misery suffered by commuters is expected to ease a bit.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered the lifting of the seven-month-old ban on cargo trucks in the city, which was blamed for congestion at the Port of Manila, food shortages and rising prices of basic goods, among other traffic-related problems.