New York: Regular exercise, even performed in areas with air pollution, can reduce the risk of death from natural causes, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the journal CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), indicates that a higher level of regular exercise compared with inactivity was beneficial, even in polluted areas, although less exposure to pollution was better.
“Habitual exercise reduces the risk of death regardless of exposure to air pollution, and air pollution generally increases the risk of death regardless of habitual exercise,” said researcher Xiang Qian Lao from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“Thus, habitual exercise should be promoted as a health improvement strategy, even for people residing in relatively polluted areas,” Lao added.
For the study, the team conducted a large study, over 15 years from 2001 to 2016, with 384,130 adults in Taiwan, seeking to understand the effects of regular exercise and long-term exposure to fine particle matter on the risk of death from natural causes.
“We found that a high level of habitual exercise and a low level of exposure to air pollution was associated with lower risk of death from natural causes, whereas a low level of habitual exercise and a high level of exposure was associated with a higher risk of death,” the researcher said.
This study adds to several other smaller studies conducted in the US, Denmark and Hong Kong that found that regular exercise, even in polluted areas, is beneficial.
The authors said that “further studies in areas with more severe air pollution are required to examine the applicability of our findings”.
“Our study reinforces the importance of air pollution mitigation, such as to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution and maximize the beneficial effects of regular exercise,” the team said.