A new study reveals that regular exercise, especially in locations with high levels of air pollution, can reduce the chance of dying from natural causes. The study, published in the journal CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), found that regular exercise was more beneficial than inactivity, even in polluted areas, albeit less exposure to pollution was preferable.
“Habitual exercise reduces the risk of mortality regardless of exposure to air pollution, while air pollution generally raises the risk of death regardless of habitual exercise,” said Chinese University of Hong Kong researcher Xiang Qian Lao.
“As a result, even in relatively polluted places, frequent exercise should be advocated as a health improvement method,” Lao noted.
The researchers conducted a major study involving 384,130 individuals in Taiwan from 2001 to 2016, with the goal of understanding the impact of regular exercise and long-term exposure to fine particle matter on the risk of mortality from natural causes.
“We discovered that a high level of habitual exercise combined with a low level of exposure to air pollution was associated with a lower risk of death from natural causes, whereas a low level of habitual exercise combined with a high level of exposure was associated with a higher risk of death,” the researcher explained.
This study adds to a number of smaller studies undertaken in the United States, Denmark, and Hong Kong that indicated that regular exercise is helpful even in polluted environments.
“Further research in places with more severe air pollution are required to investigate the relevance of our findings,” the authors said.
“Our study emphasises the importance of air pollution mitigation, such as reducing the adverse impacts of air pollution and maximising the good effects of regular exercise,” the researchers wrote.