Add another advantage to the benefits of doing exercise, as new study has claimed that working out outweighs the harmful effects of air pollution.
The study by University of Copenhagen shows that despite the adverse effects of air pollution on health, air pollution should be not perceived as a barrier to exercise in urban areas.
Associate Professor Zorana Jovanovic said that even for people living in the most polluted areas, it is healthier to go for a run, a walk or to cycle to work than it is to stay inactive.
This is the first large population-based, prospective cohort study that has examined the joint effects of both physical activity and air pollution on mortality. It is based on high quality data on both physical activity and air pollution exposure.
The Danish study includes 52,061 subjects, aged 50-65 years, from the two main cities Aarhus and Copenhagen, who participated in the cohort study Diet, Cancer and Health. From 1993-97, they reported on their 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.
5,500 participants died before 2010, and the researchers observed about 20% fewer deaths among those who exercised than among those who didn't exercise, even for those who lived in the most polluted areas, in central Copenhagen and Aarhus, or close to busy roads and highways.
Andersen concluded that it was important to note that these results pertain to Denmark and sites with similar air pollution levels, and may not necessary be true in cities with several fold higher air pollution levels, as seen in other parts of the world.
The results are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.