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Regular Exercise, Even in Polluted Areas, Reduces High Blood Pressure

Exercise provides heart-health benefits even when air quality is poor.

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Exercise and air pollution

You may have concerns about training when air pollution levels are high. Unfortunately, air quality is something you often cannot control; however, it may not need to be a barrier to exercise.

New research findings from 140,000 Taiwanese people over a 5-year period support the benefits of regular exercise even when air pollution levels are high—particularly for reducing or preventing high blood pressure. “While we found that high physical activity combined with lower air pollution exposure was linked to lower risk of high blood pressure, physical activity continued to have a protective effect even when people were exposed to high pollution levels,” said study author Xiang Qian Lao, PhD, associate professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shatin, Hong Kong. “The message is that physical activity, even in polluted air, is an important high blood pressure prevention strategy.”

Read the full study in Circulation (2020; doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.045915).

See also: A Fishy Solution to Airborne Pollution

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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