Believe it or not, the subway might be making you MORE sane—not less

By Virginia K. Smith  | December 3, 2015 - 12:59PM

Good news for New Yorkers, especially those within a few blocks of subway stops: New research indicates that living near a transit line may actually be good for your mental health. So maybe it's time to lighten up on all our gripes about the MTA? (Yesterday's L train nightmare notwithstanding.) 

According to findings recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, CityLab reports that Italian researchers have essentially confirmed everything you already suspected about the merits of living in the city versus the suburbs:

"[The data] suggests that good accessibility to public transport, as well as a dense urban structure (versus sprawl), could contribute to reduced risk of depression, especially for women and elderly, by increasing opportunities to move around and have an active social life."

The results are based on a study of residents in Turin, and indicate that both transit access and density prove "protective" of mental health, and that the populations studied were prescribed fewer antidepressants if they lived in locations easily accessible by public transit. (As CityLab points out, prescriptions are a shaky metric for overall mental health, but it's interesting nonetheless.)

And it's not any great leap to see why things like transit and general density—both of which decrease isolation, and increase opportunities for people to socialize—might be good for mental health. Plus, as annoying as the subway can be, not having to drive (or deal with alternate side parking or shoveling out of the snow in the colder months) removes a pretty huge amount of day-to-day stress and expense.

In any case, just something to keep in mind next time you find yourself stuck on a packed platform, cursing your fellow commuters under your breath. Comparatively speaking, this is all good for you!


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