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Nina In New York: New Study On Commuting Confirms Obvious

(credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

NYC Breakfast

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

Important news! An extremely scientific study has determined that your commute blows. Details tonight at 11!

No, really.

According to a recent study by people who probably don’t have to commute, the time Tri-State area worker bees spend getting to and from their jobs (roughly three years over a lifetime) will ultimately kill them. Okay, perhaps that’s dramatic. But suffice to say that the news isn’t good. Get ready, I’m about to drop a bomb:

Commuting is stressful. Bam. Traffic, stalled trains, missing buses, spending valuable life minutes with our faces smushed against the backs of strangers just trying to focus on that podcast streaming through your headphones until the moment you can breathe fresh air again. All these daily frustrations and situations which make us feel powerless and cog-like pile up over time, weighing heavily on our mental wellbeing and therefore our physical, too. The long-term effects of this sort of protracted stress include heart disease, diabetes, headaches and digestive problems. Well heck. Long-term, nothing. I’ve got a headache right now.

In addition to the insidious health problems stemming from stress, there’s the pollution with which we must also contend. Apparently it can (possibly) (maybe) lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s or stroke.

You know what I like best about studies like this? The part where someone paid to research the obviously deleterious effects of a practice which is for most people an unchangeable fact of life. For whom precisely was this study conducted? Not for people who don’t commute, who surely don’t care. And for those who do, we are now armed with knowledge which does little more than make us sigh that much more loudly every time we step foot on that damn subway or sit in that same patch of traffic again. And again. And again.

As it stands, we now know that sitting + commuting will send us to an early grave, which basically knocks out half the city. Why don’t they do studies that do more than state the depressing obvious? Like, “The Positive Effects of Eating Pizza Once A Week,” or “Ways in Which Working Behind a Desk Improve Your Sitting Muscles,” or “Spending Your Day in Front of a Computer Screen: How People Who Blink Less Live Longer.”

Let’s get on it, science friends.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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