THE pileup of divorces and misunderstandings among friends in Dar es Salaam and other urban centres is being attributed by experts to a surprising source, traffic jams.
The Stella Maris Mtwara University College in the Department of Philosophy and Ethics senior lecturer, Rev Dr Aidan Msafiri told the 'Sunday News' that apart from taking a toll on the environment, traffic jams were causing major frustrations.
"The human body is made up of four parts, the intellect, the body, emotions and the soul, all these parts need peace, nutrition and food, traffic jams are denying people this," he explained.
Dr Msafiri said that people are eating to satisfy and give their bodies what they want, many are not able to fulfilling the needs of the soul because they spend many hours on the road to and from their workplaces which has diverse effects on themselves and those that surround them.
He said that the reason why there was so much road rage, hypertension, stress and other emotion related ailments was in one way or another associated to traffic jams. "Most of the city dwellers spend more hours to and from working places than their sleeping hours.
As a consequence of this many people are increasingly becoming hypertensive, psychologically disturbed, impatient, selfish, unsympathetic and less careful," he said. Dr Msafiri said that this has a direct and indirect negative impact on day-to-day relationships from the familial, societal, medical, professional, academic as well as religious spheres.
He said that the increase of pollution caused by high-speed societies means a decrease of biodiversity- species which are being killed by the pollutants that we emit and that enter into the soil, air and water.
Adding voice on the issue, veteran physician, Dr Ali Mzige said that stress can lead to cancer and may cause erectile dysfunction (impotence). Dr Mzige said that with constant stress, the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of corticosteroids that inhibit the normal surveillance operations of the immune system.
"People have poor blood supply to the brains if they sit idle like in the case of sitting long hours in traffic jams and become stressed. Stress causes poor appetite and mood to work is low," he said.
Dr Mzige explained that the situation is worsened when people do not take breakfast and end up with poor performance adding that there are 20 benefits for exercise to increase performance and reduce aging.
"With severe stress the thymus which forms part of the immune system normally shrinks to half its size and millions of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that are important to the immune system are destroyed. The thymus stimulates the maturation of immune cells T-cells that keep cancer and other diseases at bay," he lamented.
He said that people become unfriendly when stressed and that depression is more common in women than men, although men do not want to open up and that eating junk food can also lead to stress/depression. According to the Clean Air Commute website, the impact that traffic congestion has on an individual's physical health is damaging.
As traffic congestion results in increased traffic time, a study by Washington University at St. Louis has reported that individuals exposed to increased periods of time behind the wheel tend to have larger waistlines and higher blood pressure. This leads to strain on an individual's heart.
Furthermore, those experiencing longer commutes are more likely to report less frequent participation in physical activity, decreased cardiovascular fitness and possess a greater body mass index. A Canadian study found that, for each additional hour in a car, there is a 6 per cent increase in the likelihood of obesity.
These impacts are from a long commute alone and do not include the health impacts - such as fatigue, digestion difficulties, pains and increased heart rate - associated with stress brought on by traffic congestion.
"Not only does traffic congestion influence physical health, but it also negatively impacts mental health and wellbeing," the report read in part.
The Ontario Chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) reported that traffic congestion impairs health, psychological adjustment, work performance and overall satisfaction with life. Traffic congestion has also been found to disturb mood, frustration tolerance and work absences.