Study: Air pollution has less effect on commuters who ride bikes

A new air pollution studyin the journal Epidemiology found that bicycle commuters are less affected by air pollution during their trip to and from work than those who commute by car or bus.

Airway inflammation was greater among the car and bus drivers even though the bikers were exposed to greater levels of particle pollution during their commute.

Researchers found that the car and bus commuters exhaled less volume of air with higher levels of nitric oxide than did the bikers after their two-hour commute. The study was conducted in The Netherlands and focused on lung function, airway resistance and airway inflammation.

Though the journal article doesn’t offer an explanation for why bikers fared better than car and bus commuters, an explanation was offered by Kiera Butler, articles editor at Mother Jones Magazine.

“I’m tempted to chalk it up to the superior lung capacity of bikers,”she said in her blog

The study seems to contradict popular opinion that outdoors running, biking and other aerobic exercise is a bad idea when pollution levels are elevated.

Prevention Magazine suggests the following guidelinesfor those determined to work out when the air is dirty:

  • Do not run on or near roads where there is heavy truck or bus traffic.
  • Work out in the early morning or later in the evening.
  • Exercise indoors if possible.
  • If you experience any difficulty breathing, stop exercising immediately and see a doctor.

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