According to two recent studies, if you spend enough time near a busy road, all that toxic pollution you’re breathing in could put both your lungs and your heart in jeopardy.
In the first study, Duke University researchers evaluated more than 2,000 people who lived within two miles of a major roadway.
After testing how well the participants’ hearts were working, the researchers discovered that those who lived the closest to a busy road — within about half-mile away — were at higher risk of both high blood pressure and narrowing of the arteries than those a bit farther away.
The study shows that they were also more likely to show a narrowing of the blood vessels leading to the legs, stomach, arms, and head — a condition known as peripheral artery disease, which ups the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Presumably, these participants experienced damage to their arteries over a number of months or years — but the second study out of London showed that traffic-related toxins can wreak havoc within just a couple of hours.
In the study, about 120 elderly patients were split evenly into three groups: those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), those with heart disease, and those who were healthy. Then, they were randomly assigned to walk either along a busy street or in a quiet section of a park.
It turned out that in just two hours, the walk in the park not only improved the participants’ lung capacities…but it also eased stiffness in their arteries.
And the effects lasted for up to 24 hours.
Now, both benefits are typically associated with exercise in general, so here’s where the study gets interesting.
Walking down the busy street, on the other hand, cancelled these exercise benefits. After two hours, the participants’ lung capacities barely improved at all… and their arteries actually became stiffer.
Those with COPD fared even worse than others during the street stroll — they developed blockages in small airways that left them coughing, wheezing, and gasping for breath.
So, if you don’t want your arteries or your lungs to wind up clogged, you should stay as far away as possible from “congested” streets!
Choose to walk or do outdoor activities in green spaces removed from traffic.
And if you live close to gridlocked roads, protect yourself indoors by investing in a quality air purifier with a HEPA filter.
Another option is to up your B vitamins — found in foods like liver, chicken, nuts, fish, and eggs or in “B complex” supplements — which studies have shown can offset the effects of air pollution.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Exposure to pollution counters benefits of exercise in seniors, published online 27.12.17, medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320333.php
Air Pollution in London Is Enough to Counter Exercise Benefits in Older Adults, Study Finds, published online 27.12.17, copdnewstoday.com/2017/12/12/london-air-pollution-enough-to-counter-benefits-of-exercise-in-older-adults/