CREAL: Exercise can outweigh harmful effects of air pollution

CREAL: Exercise can outweigh harmful effects of air pollution

News from CREAL

A new research from the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with other research centres as CREAL, Danish Cancer Research Center and Imperial College London, has found that the beneficial effects of exercise are more important for our health than the negative effects of air pollution, in relation to the risk of premature mortality. In other words, benefits of exercise outweigh the harmful effects of air pollution.

The study shows that despite the adverse effects of air pollution on health, air pollution should be not perceived as a barrier to exercise in urban areas. "Even for those living in the most polluted areas of Copenhagen, it is healthier to go for a run, a walk or to cycle to work than it is to stay inactive," says Associate Professor Zorana Jovanovic Andersen from the Centre for Epidemiology and Screening at the University of Copenhagen.

"On the other hand, we would still advise people to exercise and cycle in green areas, parks, woods, with low air pollution and away from busy roads, when possible”, explains the coordinator of the study, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, CREAL researcher.

This study is the first large population-based, prospective cohort study that has examined the joint effects of both physical activity and air pollution on mortality. The study includes 52,061 subjects, aged 50-65 years, from the two main cities Aarhus and Copenhagen, who participated in the cohort study Diet, Cancer and Health.

More information:

CREAL website


Zorana Jovanovic Andersen, Audrey de Nazelle, Michelle Ann Mendez, Judith Garcia-Aymerich, Ole Hertel, Anne Tjønneland, Kim Overvad, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, and Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen. A Study of the Combined Effects of Physical Activity and Air Pollution on Mortality in Elderly Urban Residents: The Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408698