If you live in the city and like to run outside, you may want to reconsider your exercise options.
A recent study by Belgian researchers found that people who jogged outside in urban areas had higher blood levels of inflammation markers and missed out on some of the cognitive benefits that exercise normally provides.
Researchers split participants in the study into two groups. Every participant alternated between walking and running three times a week for 12 weeks between noon and 1 p.m. One group worked out in an urban area, whilethe other was in a rural setting.
After 12 weeks, the researchers tested the response time and attention span of the participants. They found that the pollution consumed by the urban runners prevented them from gaining some of the cognitive benefits that the exercise provided the rural group. For example, the urban runners had a lower ability to absorb new information and generally demonstrated decreased brain plasticity.
Higher inflammation markers in the blood have been associated with mental illness. The Daily Mail reported that air pollution in towns and cities has been shown to expedite brain aging.
The good news for people who prefer to run outside in urban areas is that there are ways to avoid pollution, said the study's lead researcher, Romain Meeusen. If you can bear harsh weather, it is better for the body to run during windy or rainy days because these climates can blow away certain harmful particles. Running in parks and avoiding rush hour are also good ways to circumvent pollution.
(H/T to Barstool Sports)
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