Monday, July 16, 2012

Keep Up a Healthier Commute

Our record-breaking temperatures this summer have made travelers even more aware of the impact our transportation choices can make. Being stranded in traffic, whether you are vacation-bound or going to work, increases the levels of pollutants in the atmosphere and adds stress in many ways.

Poor air quality has been linked to a range of respiratory issues, including asthma, and there are other concerns motorists should consider in their commute, according to a study published this May in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Christine Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., the lead author, said people who drive long distances to and from work face an increased risk of "higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers."

She noted, "Previous studies have pointed to daily exposure to traffic, particularly the unpredictability of traffic, as being a source of chronic stress," raising blood pressure rates; she said these new findings are generating potential impacts on stamina, energy and overall well-being.

Commuters can be creative in choosing alternatives to get to where they need to go, combining one or more of these options - carpooling, park-and-ride lots, mass transit, bicycling and walking. Each can be viable to shorten the time people spend behind the wheels of their vehicles. The benefits are plentiful, from cleaner air to better health.

To inspire you to make smarter decisions about your travels, we at Clean Air NY encourage you to be mindful of Air Quality Action Days when they are announced and to explore, the free traffic, transit and travel information source of the New York State Department of Transportation. Good health is a precious resource, just like clean air, that we all need to protect.