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Biking in Cities with Pollution

Biking in Cities with Pollution

Posted by Kitty on

Biking in Cities with Pollution

CC image courtesy of J Jakobson on Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Biking (and exercising in general) outdoors is always good for your health. What if you live in a big city with big pollution, is biking still good for you? When it comes to biking in cities with pollution, do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Let's see what a University of Cambridge study has to say.

In a study published this year in the scholarly journal, Preventative Medicine, University of Cambridge scientists and researchers conducted a study to answer their question, "Can air pollution negate the health benefits of cycling and walking?"

The authors of the study used data that measured how polluted the air was in micrograms per cubic metre, and the level of harm it would cause for a person living and breathing this air. According to the study, the simple answer is that it is still extremely beneficial to cycle (and exercise outdoors) even if you live in a city with high pollution.

In extremely highly polluted cities like New Delhi, India, or Beijing, China, the study found that cycling up to an hour outdoors was the limit for the benefits outweighing the risks of harm on air pollution to a person's body. Any more, and the risks/benefits begin to reverse.

CC photo courtesy of waltarrrrr on Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ 

CC photo courtesy of waltarrrrr on Flickr 


In cities that are not as extremely polluted, yet still have an air pollution problem, like London, England or Los Angeles, California, you can cycle up to 16 hours per day and the health benefits would still outweigh the risks of air pollution harm. The researchers stopped their study at 16 hours because constant cycling more than 16 hours per each day was unrealistic.

Even better, if people chose cycling over using their cars for transportation, these cities would be less polluted and the health benefits of cycling would be proportionally greater.

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