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Car ownership driving up health problems

[ 2011-05-25 10:47]     字号 [] [] []  
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Chen Zeng'an has faced a dilemma since he bought a car in early 2008.

The Beijing IT company manager says driving from his home in Tongzhou district to his office in western Haidian district cuts his commute to an hour and a half - half the time it takes on public transport.

But the 28-year-old says his health has been suffering for it.

"Taking the bus and subway was my only exercise," Chen says. "But the more I drive, the less I walk. And I'm quickly gaining weight."

An even greater problem, he says, is that he has to concentrate while driving.

"Holding the same posture for so long causes numbness and pain in my spine and muscles," he says.

The Ministry of Public Security's traffic management bureau says the country now has 144 million motorists, and an average of 22 million have been joining their ranks every year.

But car ownership contributes to health risks, says a recent survey by the Ciming Checkup Group, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association and several other medical associations.

Aside from injuries incurred in traffic accidents, the risks include long-term harmful effects on both the body and mind, the survey finds.

Interviews, questionnaires and follow-up reports about the health of 355,020 drivers nationwide show the negative effects of sitting behind the wheel.

About 25 percent of respondents report cervical spondylosis - a degenerative osteoarthritis of the spinal joints.

About 17 percent suffer digestive problems, while 12.2 percent face respiratory issues and 10.2 percent develop reproductive problems.

Chinese drivers also suffer psychological discomfort, the survey finds.

Many motorists say traffic jams create anxiety and anger.

Pressure is added by the troubles and expense of maintaining and fueling the vehicles, especially since gas prices have been surging, the study says.

The survey finds psychological pressure is heaviest among drivers in first-tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and Guangdong province's capital Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.

"We found many drivers in China are suffering from road rage," says Yu Shibei, head of Ciming Checkup Group's experts on public health statistics and disease prevention.

Yu says small lifestyle tweaks can help drivers stay physically and emotionally fit. These include not using elevators and walking as much as possible at the office.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Car ownership driving up health problems

About the broadcaster:

Car ownership driving up health problems

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.