Air Pollution Wipes Out Benefits of Exercise, Study Warns

If you thought air pollution is only a hazard to your lungs, think again: New research shows that, aside from causing arterial stiffness and impaired lung function, it also negates exercise benefits if you walk in it. The study looked at 119 people over age 60 who spent two hours walking along traffic-heavy city streets, according to the Independent. While researchers said this is not a reason to stop your daily walk in the park, it also highlights the need to keep away from congested roads as much as possible.

Nearly 92 percent of the world is breathing polluted air that doesn’t meet the World Health Organization’s air quality standards, contributing to serious lung and heart damage as damaging nanoparticles slip from your lungs and into your blood. In fact, past research has demonstrated a link between cardiovascular disease and air pollution, especially from combustion engines.

There are things you can do to avoid the outside pollution, but before you go running inside for cover, remember that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, air pollution may be two to five times higher indoors than you experience outside — and in worst-case scenarios as much as 100 times higher. The good news is there are things you can do to protect yourself. For example, certain nutrients, including omega-3 fats and B vitamins, may buffer some of the health effects of air pollution. Overall, you should strive to eat a diet of whole foods, rich in anti-inflammatory vegetables and healthy fats.

To reduce indoor pollution from such things as wood glue and preservatives, household cleaning products, carpets and paints, try using household air filters, either portable or in the form of a heat recovery ventilator to help reduce pollution levels. Don’t use scented candles, room fresheners or cleaning products. Try to keep the humidity to less than 50 percent, and decorate with plants. Aloe, English ivy and a number of other plants all work to improve air quality.
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