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Air pollution and the benefits of exercise for the brain

Smoga a korzyści z aktywności fizycznej

There is further evidence that there is no health benefit from exercising in polluted air. Although scientists assert that physical activity is extremely important to human well-being, it turns out that smog can reduce its benefits, especially when it comes to the brain.

  1. The brain and the general state of human health

  2. Exposure to pollution while exercising

  3. Only frequent and intense exercises in clean air

People who engage in physical activity, such as running or competitive sports, in areas with high air pollution benefit less from exercise on certain markers of brain disease, according to the online journal Neurology.

“Vigorous exercise can increase your body’s exposure to air pollution, and previous research has shown that such pollutants have harmful effects on the brain,” said Dr. Melissa Furlong of the University of Arizona in Tucson and lead author of the study. “We have shown that while physical activity is associated with improved indicators of brain health in areas with less air pollution, some of the beneficial effects of training are completely gone when you exercise in areas with higher air levels. pollution.

The brain and the general state of human health

For study purposes, such signs as
Excessive white matter intensity (indicating damage) and gray matter volume in the brain. As the publication’s authors explain, a larger volume of gray matter and a smaller volume of denser white matter foci are indicators of better overall health of our brain.

However, the scientist notes that she does not recommend giving up sports. – Of course, this does not mean that people should avoid exercise – stresses the researcher – because the effects of air pollution that we discovered on brain health were very modest: roughly half the effect of one year of aging. But the effect of intense activity alone on brain health was much greater: roughly equivalent to being three years younger.

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Exposure to pollution while exercising

The study covered 8,600 people with an average age of 56 years. According to scholars
Their level of exposure to pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, and based on the results obtained, they were classified into one of four groups: from the lowest air pollution to the highest.

Each person’s physical activity was measured over a week using a device called an accelerometer. The researchers then described the participants’ physical activity patterns based on the amount of time they spent per week exercising vigorously (0 to more than 30 minutes).

They found that those who devoted the most time to intense training had an average of 800 cm3 of gray matter, while those who did not exercise at all had an average of 790 cm3.

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Brain benefits of physical activity

Only frequent and intense exercises in clean air

Scientists have shown that air pollution does not significantly change the effect of intense activity on gray matter volume, but it does clearly change its effect on white matter hyperintensity. To adjust for differences in age, gender, etc., frequent intense training was found to reduce white matter density, but only in areas with low air pollution. In people who exercise
In areas with high air pollution, there was no benefit to the brain.

More research is needed, but if our findings are confirmed, they could be used to develop new health-related policy, for example to promote running and cycling in places away from heavy traffic, which generates a significant amount of air pollution, he concludes. Dr.. Furlong.

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Sedentary lifestyle - health consequences

Source: PAP / Katarzyna Czechowicz |

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