If you feel doing your morning or evening walk on busy city streets will do you any good and reduce migraine attacks, you’re wrong! Tons of traffic fumes oozing out of vehicles quickly cancel out all health benefits of exercise, a new study suggests.
A study carried out in London, and published in Dec, 2017, by the Lancet, included 122 volunteers over the age of 60 who either healthy or have stable heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They all walked for one hour midday at two different locations. One of them walked on serene section of Hyde Park, where air pollution was minimal. The other group walked along the busy shopping area on Oxford Street, where pollutant levels (nitrogen dioxide, black carbon, and fine particulate matter) regularly reached dangerous levels. These two walks were separated by four to six weeks.
Everybody in the first group benefited greatly from the stroll in the Hyde park. They found amazing improvement in their lung capacity within an hour, and this affect lasted for 16-22 hours for many people. In contrast, the group walking along Oxford Street barely witnessed any such benefit.
Exercise enhances blood flow and also makes arteries less stiff. They also help reduce migraine attacks. But these improvements were limited among volunteers after a walk along Oxford Street.
As the study authors advise: “It’s best to do walking exercise in urban green space areas that lie away from high-density traffic.”