Posted on Aug 22, 2016, 6 a.m.
Regular physical activity may reduce the risk of premature death, in urban and high-trafficked areas.
Physical activity heightens respiratory processes and may raise the deposition of air pollutants in the lung. But a team from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) submits that there are benefits to exercise that outweigh the harmful effects of air pollution. Zorana Jovanovic Andersen and colleagues analyzed data collected on 52,061 subjects, aged 50-65 years, enrolled in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study. Participants self-reported physical leisure activities, including sports, cycling to/from work and in their leisure time, gardening and walking. The researchers then estimated air pollution levels from traffic at their residential addresses. Data analysis revealed that there were 20% fewer deaths among those who exercised, as compared to those who did not exercise at all – even for those who lived in the most polluted areas (cities and close to busy roads and highways). The study authors report that: “exposure to high levels of traffic-related air pollution did not modify associations indicating beneficial effects of physical activity on mortality.”
Andersen ZJ, de Nazelle A, Mendez MA, Garcia-Aymerich J, Hertel O, Tjønneland A, Overvad K, Raaschou-Nielsen O, Nieuwenhu. “A Study of the Combined Effects of Physical Activity and Air Pollution on Mortality in Elderly Urban Residents: The Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort.” Environ Health Perspect., 2015 Jan 27.