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Potential link found between a physically inactive lifestyle and pollution-related asthma symptoms

Potential link found between a physically inactive lifestyle and pollution-related asthma symptoms

Scientists in the USA have found that leading a physically inactive life could increase a person’s risk of pollution-related asthma symptoms.

The research, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, aimed to find out whether a person’s level of physical activity would have an effect on their likelihood of experiencing asthma symptoms when exposed to air pollution.

Researchers studied two different groups of rats – an ‘active’ group, which had access to an exercise wheel, and an ‘inactive’ group, which did not – for 7 weeks. After this period, both groups of rats were exposed to either clean air or three different levels of ozone for a total of 10 hours over two days.

The rats then had their breathing measured and scientists analysed cells from fluid in their lungs to see if there was any difference between the rats that were active and those that were inactive.

The scientists found that, after being exposed to ozone, both groups of rats experienced inflammation in the lungs – a symptom of asthma – but that this was much more significant in the inactive group of rats. Exposure to ozone impacted on the breathing rate of both groups of animals, with the active animals using their exercise wheels 71% less than those exposed to normal air.

Ground-level ozone is a type of pollution created by chemical reactions between the sun's rays and organic gases and oxides of nitrogen emitted by cars, power plants, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants and other sources.

The researchers argue that this finding could also be similar among humans, but further research is needed.

Read the original news story.

Read the abstract of the journal article.

Download the ‘Exercise and air quality – 10 top tips’ factsheet.