Air Pollution & Exercise
New research from South Korea suggests that even young people should avoid very strenuous activity on days when air pollution levels are high. This finding comes from a study that included nearly 1.5 million young adults aged 20 to 39. The researchers reported that in this group the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack, increased as the amount of physical activity decreased among participants when their exposures to air pollution was at low levels. Research leader Sang Min Park, M.D., Ph.D., wrote that the findings support the conclusion that physical activity, particularly at levels recommended in the European Society of Cardiology guidelines, is associated with a lower risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease among young adults. However, he added that when air pollution levels are high, exercising beyond the recommended amount may offset or even reverse the beneficial effects. The researchers noted that the study cannot show that air pollution was responsible for the increased cardiovascular risk seen, only that it was associated with it.
Seong Rae Kim et al, “Association of the combined effects of air pollution and changes in physical activity with cardiovascular disease in young adults,” European Heart Journal, March 29,2021, doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehab139
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