Outdoor Exercise Worth Some Air Pollution Risk




This is Scientific American 60-Second Science. I'm Christopher Intagliata. Got a minute?
I'm running over the Williamsburg Bridge, in New York City.
It connects Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan.
It's one of my favorite places to run,'cause the views are great.
Until you look at all the taxis and trucks spewing exhaust.
Always makes me wonder, is all that pollution essentially undoing any health boost I'm getting from the run?
A new study of more than 50,000 Danish adults suggests I might be ok.
Of course, being Denmark, more than two-thirds of them regularly rode a bike—and half played sports.
As you might expect, both activities lowered the Danes' risk of death during the 17-year study period.
But that effect held true even for the Danes exercising in the most polluted parts of Copenhagen, suggesting that the short-term heavy intake of pollutants during exercise is just a small proportion of their overall exposure to pollution, and thus, does not diminish the benefits of exercise.
The results are in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Of course, Copenhagen has pretty clean air, even by European standards.
So these results might not translate to, say, Beijing.
And the researchers still advise exercising in green spaces, parks, and other road-free areas if possible.
But hey, I'd have to head all the way to midtown Manhattan for that.

For Scientific American 60-Second Science. I'm Christopher Intagliata.