How to cope with stressful traffic? Let Duque count the ways

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 04:51 AM November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Stuck in traffic? Read a book, shop online, or maybe pray the rosary and remember to keep calm.

These are just a few of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s reminders to commuters to ensure that the horrendous traffic congestion expected to go with the holiday rush, especially in Metro Manila, would not adversely affect their health.


Duque forgot to mention listening to podcasts.

He pointed out that rather than getting stressed over traffic, which increases the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases, it would be better for the public to just make use of their time on the road to pursue certain tasks.


“Pray the rosary, read books, bring your documents … You have to be smart. Turn your cars, or buses or jeepneys into your mobile office. Do what needs to be done,” Duque said.

No use fuming

He said cursing the traffic could just raise one’s blood pressure and lead to a heart attack.

“You can’t do anything about it (congestion). It will not make your travel any faster or any more comfortable.”

According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the number of cars using the roads in Metro Manila usually spike by up to 20 percent as Christmas approaches.

The Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity (Pasoo) earlier said vehicular congestion could likely increase the risks of obesity as commuters would be immobile and stressed, making them prone to cardiovascular diseases.

Increasing stress hormones in the body makes one fat, according to Dr. Nemencio Nicodemus, Pasoo vice president. A stressed person naturally tends to eat, he said.


“What do you eat [while sitting in traffic]? Junk food or you drive through a fastfood [restaurant] just so you have the ‘energy,’’’ Nicodemus said. “So there is both a physical and hormonal reason as to why people gain weight when you are stuck in traffic.”

Cardiovascular ailments are among the top noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) afflicting Filipinos, along with diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.

NCDs cost the country P756 billion annually due to health-care expenses and lost earning capacity, a recent United Nations report found.

Stay at home, apps

Duque said that in the run-up to the holidays, it might be helpful if one could just “stay at home and do your transactions via electronic devices.”

“Instead of shopping [in the malls], just use the [mobile shopping] apps,” he said.

Earlier this year, President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11165, or the Telecommuting Act, which allows employees to work in an alternative workplace on a voluntary basis.

Dr. Jorge Ignacio, chair of the Philippine General Hospital’s Cancer Institute, reminded commuters to wear masks to help reduce their exposure to smoke and developing lung cancer.

“It will be good if we would wear masks, especially if you commute every day. Not all of us would get cancer just because we are commuters [exposed to smoke]. But there are people who are really prone to it, such as those who have a family history of cancer,” he said.

Other ailments one could get from exposure to smoke and pollution are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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TAGS: coping with stress, DoH, Francisco Duque III, Metro Manila traffic, stress relief
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