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Exercising in a City: Should You Worry About Air Pollution?

There are plenty of advantages to living in a big city, from convenience to culture and opportunity. But because cities contain more people (and more cars and buses), they generally also share one not-so-amazing benefit: air pollution.

Air pollution is not good for you — it can make you sick, and it can damage your lungs, heart and other organs — but is it a concern for people who exercise in cities?

City residents are more likely to be exposed to air pollution, so they may be more at risk for negative health effects from it, says James Pickett, PhD, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, who has studied the effects of air pollution on the health of people who live in cities and those who work in them, but not on those who exercise in cities, according to his research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2011 and 2013, respectively (Pickett has also written an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal).

“I think it’s important to take a step back and think about how air pollution is a problem in general,” Pickett says, noting that there are many other things that are worse for you than air pollution, like obesity, tobacco use and high blood pressure, which he says are much more common in cities than air pollution and, for the most part, have nothing to do with the built environment, the physical environment that is impacted by how cities are designed and built, or the social environment, such as the nature of communities, that is impacted by how cities are organized and governed, according to Pickett, who has also studied the effects of air pollution on the health of people who exercise in cities, as well as people who don’t exercise in cities at all, and people who live in rural areas, according to his research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively, and an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal in 2013 (Pickett has also written an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal).

“I think it’s important to think about air pollution as a problem that has many causes,” he says, “and that we need to take steps to reduce the effects of air pollution on our health, regardless of where you live or what you do for a living,” Pickett says, noting that the effects of air pollution can be particularly harmful for people who live in cities, and that cities are the fastest growing regions in the country and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, so the number of people who live in cities is only going to increase over time, according to Pickett, who says that air pollution is particularly bad in the winter months, when the air is colder and people tend to be indoors more, so people who live in cities are more likely to be exposed to air pollution, which can lead to more health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems, which can be exacerbated by air pollution, according to Pickett, who says that he was particularly surprised to find that air pollution was as bad in rural areas as it was in cities, and that he was even more surprised to find that people who exercise in cities were more likely to be exposed to air pollution than people who don’t exercise in cities, according to Pickett, who says that he was also surprised to find that people who live in cities, regardless of what they do for a living, are more likely to be exposed to air pollution than people who live in rural areas, which he says is likely because the air is generally cleaner in rural areas than in cities, which is why people who live in rural areas tend to be healthier than people who live in cities, according to Pickett, who says that people who live in rural areas also tend to be healthier than people who live in cities because of the natural environment and because people who live in rural areas tend to be physically active more than people who live in cities, who may not be as physically active as people who live in rural areas because they are less likely to live in rural areas, according to Pickett, who says that the effects of air pollution are more pronounced in the winter than in the summer, and that he suspects that the effects of air pollution on people who live in cities are also more pronounced in the winter than in the summer, because people who live in cities are more likely to be exposed to air pollution in the winter than in the summer, because the air is colder in the winter and people are more likely to be indoors, according to Pickett, who says that he was surprised to find that people who exercise in cities were more likely to be exposed to air pollution than people who don’t exercise in cities, because he didn’t expect people who exercise in cities to be exposed to air pollution, but he was surprised to find that people who exercise in cities were more likely to be exposed to air pollution than people who live in rural areas, according to Pickett, who says that he was also surprised to find that people who live in cities, regardless of what they do for a living, were more likely to be exposed to air

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