London's air pollution cancels out benefits of exercise, study says

London's air pollution cancels out benefits of exercise, study says

London's air pollution cancels out benefits of exercise, study says

However, there really is no safe level of air pollution, as study author Mireille B. Toledano, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, explained to the Times.

Air pollution can wipe out all of those health benefits, according to a new report.

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.

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

Researchers at Imperial College London have found an association between exposure to road traffic pollution and an increased risk of low birth weights at term.

Researchers estimated average monthly concentrations of pollutants related to road traffic, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from traffic exhaust and non-exhaust sources, such as brakes or tyre wear, as well as larger particulate matter (PM10).

An analysis of the data found that increases in traffic-related air pollutants were associated with 2% to 6% increased odds of low birth weight and 1% to 3% increased odds of being small for gestational age.

Scientists had said exposure to air pollution on city streets can counter the beneficial health effects of exercise in older adults.

A low birth weight, which is less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces, can lead to health issues for some babies, such as breathing problems, an increased risk of infection, and low blood sugar. "We need to reduce pollution so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of physical activity in any urban environment".

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The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation, whose chief executive Simon Gillespie said: 'Exercise is crucial in reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke, but it seems unsafe levels of air pollution could be erasing these benefits in older adults.

Two-thirds of the volunteers had been diagnosed with either heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while the others were healthy (no pre-existing heart or lung condition).

Participants spent two hours walking along traffic-heavy Oxford Street, which is one the most polluted spots in the United Kingdom, or in Hyde Park.

Physical measurements were taken before and after the walks to show the effects of the exercise on cardiovascular health, including measurements of lung volume exhaled, blood pressure, and the degree to which the blood vessels could expand. The pollution may cause diseases, allergies or death of humans; it may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops, and may damage the natural or built environment. When middle-aged Londoners were forced to walk in either green and lovely Hyde Park, or along traffic-clogged Oxford Street nearby, their hearts and lungs spoke the truth.

The research compared walking for two hours in Oxford Street with strolling in Hyde Park, which registers some air pollution but far less than in the heart of the capital city's shopping district. Walking in Hyde Park reduced arterial stiffness by a maximum of more than 24 percent in the healthy and COPD volunteers and by more than 19 percent in the patients with heart disease.

The researchers also note that stress from the increased noise and activity of Oxford Street may have had an effect on the study's results.

Chung said that majority of elderly people who have persistent illness the only exercise they can do is to walk.

"Combined with evidence from other recent studies, our findings underscore that we can't really tolerate the levels of air pollution that we now find on our busy streets", said Fan Chung, professor of respiratory medicine and head of experimental studies medicine at Imperial College's National Heart and Lung Institute.

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