According to new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), regular exercise reduces the risk of death regardless of exposure to air pollution, and air pollution generally increases the risk of death regardless of regular exercise .
Therefore, regular exercise should be promoted as a health improvement strategy, even for people residing in relatively polluted areas.
15 years of study
To reach this conclusion, a study was conducted over 15 years, from 2001 to 2016, with 384,130 adults in Taiwan , in order to understand the effects of regular exercise and long-term exposure to fine particles on the risk of death by natural causes.
The researchers found that a higher level of regular exercise compared to inactivity was beneficial, even in polluted areas, although less exposure to pollution was better .
Recommendations for safe exercise in polluted areas, such as exercising indoors and avoiding walking and cycling on congested roads, can contribute to inequalities, as those of lower socioeconomic status often lack these options.
Both physical inactivity and air pollution have detrimental effects on health. Staying active shouldn’t be at the cost of your health compromised by air pollution. Addressing the two major public health issues through synergistic, bottom-up, and system-level approaches would lead to long-term health benefits for humans and the planet.