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Exercise and Pollution – Long Term Health Risk?

Exercise and Pollution – Long Term Health Risk?

We exercise for many reasons, from the short-term hit of endorphins to the long-term promise of healthier aging. Can one of them be protection from…

Tuesday, Jun 07

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We exercise for many reasons, from the short-term hit of endorphins to the long-term promise of healthier aging. Can one of them be protection from higher mortality risks during periods of high pollution? Given our increasing urbanization and continued reliance on fossil fuels, paired with global warming has been increasing levels of pollution in many parts of the world. We often think of big cities and smog alerts when it comes to pollution, but rural environments aren’t immune. Look at the dust blown up during Strade Bianche or Paris-Roubaix, and the same thing happens with winds blowing topsoil off of farm areas.

The challenge for cyclists and other outdoor athletes is that we breathe in a lot of air during exercise, from a resting ventilation of 5-10 L/min to 100+ L/min during heavy exercise. That creates a much higher pollution load our body has to deal with. Coupled with this is that we typically switch to primarily oral (mouth) breathing above about 35 L/min, reducing any filtration from our nasal passages. Furthermore, athletes breathe deeply during exercise, meaning that we likely draw the pollutants deeper into our lungs.

We know that exercise has a host of overall health benefits through pretty much every system in our body. At the same time, we’re often exercising in polluted environments. So one question becomes: “ Can regular exercise protect us from sudden periods of high pollution?”

Click on the video below to find out more!

Reference

Wong CM et al. Does regular […]

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