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Clinicians prescribing exercise: is air pollution a hazard?

James E Sharman
Med J Aust 2005; 182 (12): 606-607.
Published online: 20 June 2005

A common-sense approach to reducing exposure to polluted air is required

It is an unquestionable fact that regular physical activity is beneficial to health and longevity. Accordingly, it is common practice for physicians and other health care professionals to encourage exercise. However, people exercising in urban regions may be unwittingly at risk because of exposure to concentrated automotive pollution, a known risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory disease. The physiological changes that occur during exercise probably act to compound the toxic effects of environmental air pollution, and certain patient populations may have increased sensitivity. People should not be deterred from regular exercise, as it is of known benefit, but when prescribing exercise, clinicians should extend appropriate advice to patients to avoid areas with high pollutant concentrations.

  • James E Sharman

  • Department of Medicine and School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD.

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