In my city, some advocacy groups are raising awareness about the dangers of vehicle exhaust nearby parks and other places where people exercise.

However, we couldn't get to "the heart" of the body of knowledge about influences of vehicle air pollution (small particles and gases) specifically over people who are performing physical activity.

Is there any classic study on the subject?

  • Not necessarily a classic study, but a small study showed "a significant decrease in mean Vo2 max, red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin, as well as significant increase in mean lactate level, white blood cell count and mean corpuscular volume in the higher-polluted than in the lower-polluted area". This pdf discusses dosage, respiratory effects, environmental factors, types of pollutants etc, but does not cite references. Mar 25, 2013 at 10:59
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    This review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine surveys the literature and gives a nice discussion of the 6 major air pollutants, and concludes: "Advice to those exercising is of course to stay away from traffic." (Complete with references.) Mar 25, 2013 at 11:12
  • @BackInShapeBuddy that could be put into an answer! :) Mar 25, 2013 at 14:39
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    Hopefully someone with more knowledge in this area than I do will do that :) Mar 25, 2013 at 19:00
  • Actually, @BackInShapeBuddy - all you would need to do is expand your comment slightly - Put in that "this review examined the effects of these 6 pollutants", with a little explanation and it would make a great answer. Also for the OP, if you go to Google Scholar and use the search phrase "air pollution impact on exercise" there are a lot of good articles and research studies. They all boil down to "don't run on the road if you can help it" though. :)
    – JohnP
    Oct 29, 2013 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


Classic studies usually link air pollution with lung conditions.

I find this recent study extremely interesting though:

Researchers from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium split a group of 24 runners into two groups: those from urban areas and those from rural areas.

During a 12-week period, the two groups were asked to run three days a week around noon. One group exercised in a rural area, the other group in a busy urban setting. Then, researchers gave the subjects a test to measure their response time and attention span.

They found that those that ran in the city had lower IQ scores and had a higher risk of brain inflammation, according to the Daily Mail. Says http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/1212/jogging-outside-could-make-you-dumber-6432.aspx

The original study can be found here:

Bos, Inge, et al. "Subclinical effects of aerobic training in urban environment." Med Sci Sports Exerc 45.3 (2013): 439-47.

If we check the references of this article, we can find some other interesting ones:

os I, Jacobs L, Nawrot TS, et al. No exercise-induced increase in serum BDNF after cycling near a major traffic road. Neurosci Lett.2011; 500(2):129-32.

Int Panis L, de Geus B, Vandenbulcke G, et al. Exposure to particulate matter in traffic: A comparison of cyclists and car passengers. Atmos Environ. 2010. 44...



Let me suggest you these articles for a start:

If not classics, I think they are some of the most cited articles in the subject. Hope it helps.

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