Can physical activity in a polluted city decrease the risk of a heart attack?
Being physically active can reduce the risk of a heart attack, even if you live in a polluted city - no excuse not to move!
Exercising in a polluted city may be conflicting to think about, as reports commonly declare that dirty air contributes to your chances of experiencing heart failure, but being inactive also increases your chances of having a heart attack. So what should you do? Well, scientists are claiming that when it comes to decreasing your chances of undergoing cardiac arrest, exercising in a polluted city trumps not moving around at all.
A recent study conducted at the University of Copenhagen uncovers more reasons for you to put on your trainers, even if smog surrounds you. Lead author Nadine Kubesch claims, “Our study shows that physical activity even during exposure to air pollution, in cities with levels similar to those in Copenhagen, can reduce the risk of heart attack," He continues, "Our research supports existing evidence that even moderate levels of regular physical activity, such as active commuting, are sufficiently intense to get these health benefits.”
The article, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shares that researchers from Spain, Denmark, and Germany analysed the connection between outdoor activities in polluted areas and the number of heart attacks in 51,868 participants between the ages of 50 - 65. Over a lengthy 17.7 year period, 2,936 people suffered cardiac arrests, and 324 experienced secondary heart attacks.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that cycling for more than four hours a week significantly cut the participants’ chances of experiencing heart failure, but the most potent and effective form was a combination of sports, cycling, gardening, and walking - air quality didn’t affect these results.
The scientists shared shocking information highlighting how simple exercises can help to reduce the chances of experiencing a heart attack - if you exercise outdoors anywhere between 30 minutes to four hours a week, you will minimise the likelihood of undergoing cardiac arrest by 19%, and if you’ve already had a heart attack, exercising for the same amount of time may reduce your chances of experiencing another heart attack by a lofty 45%. The more you move around, the better!
However, it is important to note that the study did not look at people living in extremely high polluted conditions, which prompted Dr George Thurston from New York University School of Medicine to warn, “Exercise is good for your heart, irrespective of air pollution, but exercising in low pollution is healthier than running in high pollution.”
Exercising is so beneficial for your health, and more often than not, physical activity will always reap more rewards than avoiding it altogether. If you are currently residing in an area with extreme levels of air pollution, you can still work out inside, as the study states that 30 minutes to four hours of activity (not specifically outside) may lower your chances of having your first heart failure by 23%.
You can always look up different forms of exercise on YouTube - you will be able to find anything from gentle stretching routines to intense workouts, or there are also various phone apps like Nike Training Club. Which exercises will you incorporate into your daily schedule?