Medical

Air Pollution In London 'So Bad It Cancels Out Benefits Of Exercise'

Air Pollution In London 'So Bad It Cancels Out Benefits Of Exercise'

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.

"These would apply to European cities and North American cities where the pollution levels are more similar", Chung said. Even though London is not one of the world's most notoriously polluted cities, there is a lot of diesel pollution in downtown streets such as Oxford Street, and there is much less in nearby Hyde Park, with its trees, bushes and grassy spaces.

The volunteers were asked to take two-hour walks at midday in two London settings: a busy section of Oxford Street (which regularly exceeds global air quality limits) and a relatively quiet, traffic-free area of Hyde Park. Some weeks later they did the other walk. Not surprisingly, the Oxford Street setting had significantly higher levels of both, including greater amounts of black carbon, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.

Analysis revealed that participants benefitted from walking in the park, with lung capacity improving within the first hour and a significant lasting increase for more than 24 hours in many cases.

Blood flow and heart rate also increased after a walk in the park, blood pressure decreased, and arteries became less stiff. Compared with Hyde Park, after walking down Oxford Street, participants with COPD reported more cough, sputum, shortness of breath, and wheeze (odds ratios, 1.95, 3.15, 1.86, and 4.00, respectively).

For the research, the team recruited 119 volunteers over the age of 60 who were healthy, had stable COPD, or had stable heart disease.

"Our findings indicate that in traffic congested streets, like London's Oxford Street, the health benefits of walking do not always outweigh the risk from traffic pollution", said senior author Professor Fan Chung, from the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London.

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

"If people can not find a green place or a park to exercise, I think they probably should exercise indoors", Chung said.




"I think it might well do".

The authors say more research is needed to confirm this finding.

Other scientists said the study was important evidence of the harms of air pollution, although they would not advise people to stop walking in the city streets, because the benefits for healthy people were reduced but not completely lost.

"This paper highlights the risks to health by walking along polluted roads for the over-60s with specific pre-existing medical conditions", added Ian Colbeck, professor of environmental science at the University of Essex. Overall, London breached air pollution limits for 2017 just five days into the new year. People like outdoor exercise.

In the United Kingdom, polluted air contributes to about 40,000 deaths a year, almost a quarter of them in London.

Prof Stephen Holgate from Southampton University and special adviser to the Royal College of Physicians on air quality, said: "The observation that air pollution encountered on a high street in London removes any health protection produced by exercise outdoors is yet another demonstration that pollution is eroding the health of ordinary people".

They argue the study should "increase awareness that prenatal exposure to small particle air pollution is detrimental to the unborn child", but stress that increasing awareness without solutions "may serve only to increase maternal anxiety and guilt". I would say no.

Or maybe your doctor has recommended more exercise, but you live in a city and can't escape the air pollution.


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