Декабря 14, 2017


Pollution wipes out the benefits of exercise, study suggests

06 Декабря 2017, 08:20 | Winston Chapman

Exercising on polluted city streets can lead to breathing problems: Inhaling toxic fumes cancels out the benefits of keeping fit

Image Unseasonably Warm February Temperatures Approach 60 Degrees In New York City

"Our hope is that this study will add to the evidence city leaders need to contribute to policies that will encourage preservation of green spaces", said Jim Zhang, professor of global and environmental health at the US's Duke University.

'When exercising it's best to avoid highly-polluted areas, swapping them for green spaces or even back streets where pollution is lower. Average day and night-time road traffic noise levels were also estimated.

While people who walked at Hyde Park showed improvements in lung capacity as well as reduced stiffness of the arteries, researchers found a rise in arterial stiffness in people who walked across Oxford Street.

The researchers concluded that to overcome the issue of traffic related air pollution, and reduce health risks for the next generation, immediate, broad, multi-sector action is needed.

The project was also supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department of Health.

According to a new study, published in The Lancet, some people who take walks around city streets could be putting their health at risk.

This is the first study to document these negative effects on healthy people as well as those with pre-existing cardiorespiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or coronary heart disease. By comparison, a walk along Oxford Street led to a smaller increase during the first hours and no increase later. They also point out that there was no resting control group, so they can't be sure that walking contributed to the changes in lung function and arterial stiffness, although previous studies have shown that walking improves arterial stiffness.

In healthy participants the walk in Hyde Park led to a 7.5 per cent improvement in the amount of air they could expel in one breath and improvements in blood flow which persisted up to 26 hours after exercise.

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For the study, the team of researchers recruited 119 adults, above the age of 60.

The health impact of pollution was particularly marked in participants with COPD, who experienced a narrowing of the small airways-reporting more respiratory symptoms including cough, sputum production, shortness of breath, and wheeze-and increased arterial stiffness after walking in Oxford Street compared with Hyde Park.

The authors add that it is possible that stress could account for some of the physiological differences seen between the two settings, with the increased noise and activity of Oxford Street having an effect.

Walking is the sort of low impact exercise recommended by the NHS for older people to improve their cardiovascular fitness, but the study found that the impact of air pollution negated this.

Commenting on the results, Fan Chung, Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Head of Experimental Studies Medicine at the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London and senior author of the study, said: "These findings are important as for many people, such as the elderly or those with chronic disease, very often the only exercise they can do is to walk".

New research suggests that the benefits of exercise could be cancelled out by the high levels of pollution found in urban areas.

"However, telling joggers to avoid polluted streets is not a solution to the problem".

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