NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The average commuter in the Tri-state area spends three years of his or her life heading to and from work and now, a new study finds it can seriously affect your health.

No matter how you commute, the daily grind takes its toll and all that time spent commuting can lead to health issues down the road.

“Commutes tend to make people focus on things that have them feeling kind of helpless and out of control,” said health psychologist Dr. Greg Peterson.

All that, Peterson says, can lead to stress and long-term stress can lead to heart disease, diabetes, headaches and digestive problems.

“Emotionally, we’re going to be depleted and therefore more vulnerable to increased irritability, depression, anxiety,” said Peterson.

Another big issue with commuting is pollution. A recent study of 19,000 older women found a link between long-term exposure to air pollutants and faster cognitive decline. Other studies have found an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and stroke.

While most of us can’t change our commute, we can change some habits to keep stress levels down.

Exercise helps counter all that sitting in the car or on the train and keeping healthy snacks handy can help stave off hunger, which can lead to even more frustration.

While commuting may be bad in the New York City area, it’s not the worst in the country.

According to AAA, the most recent study on the worst cities for traffic found Los Angeles was the worst followed by Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.

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