Pollution reduces the benefits of physical activity on the brain

Madrid 9 city. (European Press) –

A new study shows that people who engage in vigorous physical activities, such as running or competitive sports, in areas with high air pollution, may show fewer benefits from this exercise in terms of some signs of brain disease, the researchers published. “Neurology,” the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Signs examined in the study included white matter hyperintensities, indicating lesions in the brain’s white matter and gray matter volume. Increased volume of gray matter and decreased volume of white matter hyperintensity are signs of overall brain health.

“Vigorous exercise can increase exposure to air pollution, and previous studies have shown adverse effects of air pollution on the brain,” says study author Melissa Furlong from the University of Arizona in the US.

“We show that physical activity is associated with improved indicators of brain health in areas with less air pollution – he adds -. However, some beneficial effects mainly disappeared in the case of vigorous physical activity in areas with less air pollution. With higher levels of air pollution, this It doesn’t mean that people should avoid exercise.”

In this sense, he notes that “Overall, the effect of air pollution on brain health was modest, roughly equivalent to half a year’s effect of aging, while the effect of vigorous activity on brain health was much greater, roughly equivalent to being three years younger.”

The study looked at 8,600 people with an average age of 56 from the UK Biobank, a large biomedical database. People’s exposure to pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which are particles from liquids or solids suspended in the air, has been estimated as land use has declined.

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A land use regression study models air pollution levels based on air monitors and land use characteristics such as traffic, agriculture, and industrial sources of air pollution.

Participants’ exposure to air pollution was categorized into four equal groups, from least to greatest air pollution. Each person’s physical activity was measured for a week using a motion sensor called an accelerometer. They then described their physical activity patterns based on the amount of vigorous physical activity they did, from none to 30 minutes or more per week.

In people who did the most active physical activity per week, the average gray matter volume was 800 cm 3, compared to the average gray matter volume of 790 cm 3 in people who did not exercise vigorously at all.

The researchers showed that exposure to air pollution did not change the effect of physical activity on gray matter volume. However, the researchers found that exposure to air pollution altered the effects of vigorous physical activity when white matter hyperintensity was examined.

After adjusting for age, gender, and other covariates, the researchers found that vigorous physical activity reduced white matter hyperintensities in areas of low air pollution, but these benefits were not found in areas of high air pollution.

“More research is needed, but if our findings are replicated, public policy could be used to address people’s exposure to air pollution during exercise,” Furlong warns. For example, since a significant amount of air pollution comes from traffic, which promotes running or cycling on the roads away from heavy traffic can be more beneficial.”

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