The next time you pound the pavement, pick your route carefully. Running and walking next to busy traffic can eliminate the benefits of your run, according to a new study.
Researchers from The Lancet in the UK studied 119 volunteers to determine the effects on the body experienced when breathing in car and truck fumes. The study conducted involved measuring the group after two separate walks. Both efforts were two hours long and happened at midday, with the difference coming in location. The first test was conducted after a walk in leafy Hyde Park, while the second, held 3-8 weeks after was held on busy Oxford Street.
While the bulk of Hyde Park has pollution well within the healthy range, the bustling sidewalks of Oxford Street regularly register high levels of black carbon, nitrogen dioxide, and fine particulate matter.
Following walks in Hyde Park, participants experience expected benefits associated with exercise, such as improved lung functioning, improved blood flow, and easing of artery stiffness. These effects were visible for up to 24 hours post exercise.
However, after walking along Oxford Street, none of these physiological benefits registered for the participants. It seemed that the pollution levels inhaled during the walk almost nullify the benefits experience from exercise.
"Walking exercise should be enjoyed in urban green space areas away from high-density traffic," advise the experts behind the study.