Commuter stress higher than combat pilots

Commuters can experience greater stress than fighter pilots going into battle or riot policemen, a new study says.

Stress expert Dr David Lewis compared the heart rate and blood pressure of 125 commuters with those of pilots and police officers in training exercises.

The study, part-funded by technology firm Hewlett Packard, found the stress levels of commuters were higher in extreme circumstances. Their stress is exacerbated by their inability to control their situation.

Dr Lewis said: “The difference is that a riot policeman or a combat pilot have things they can do to combat the stress that is being triggered by the event. But a commuter, particularly on a train, cannot do anything about it at all.”

Dr Lewis, who measured the stress levels of commuters for five years, has also identified a syndrome he calls “commuter amnesia”, where people forget large parts of their journey because of stress.

He said commuting makes people feel “frustrated, anxious and despondent”.

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