Why a walk in the park beats a stroll on the street

UNTV News   •   December 25, 2017   •   3585

People walk under cherry blossoms inside a public park on a spring day in Lausanne April 6, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

(Reuters Health) — Older adults who take a daily constitutional may want to avoid traffic-jammed city streets and head to a park instead because polluted air diminishes the benefits of exercise, a UK study suggests.

Researchers in London randomly assigned 119 men and women age 60 or older to take two-hour walks along one of two distinct routes: through a tranquil traffic-free expanse of Hyde Park, or along Oxford Street, the city’s bustling shopping district that’s clogged with diesel-powered buses and cabs.

The study team tested the air for contaminants during each walk, and also assessed participants for lung capacity, or how easily people could breathe, and arterial stiffness, which influences how hard the heart works to pump blood through the body.

After walking in Hyde Park, healthy participants had better lung capacity and decreased arterial stiffness, the study found. But when these people walked along Oxford Street, they experienced only a slight improvement in lung capacity and their arteries got stiffer.

“Just walking at a normal pace for a couple of hours benefits the respiratory and cardiovascular system for up to 24 hours after the walk,” said senior study author Kian Fan Chung of Imperial College London.

“This in itself is a new finding, but the most interesting finding is that being exposed during that time to environmental pollution that one encounters on a busy roadside with a lot of traffic virtually negates these benefits,” Chung said by email.

Exercise has long been linked to better cardiovascular health, and the connection between air pollution exposure and a wide range of health problems including asthma and other breathing issues is also well established.

Black soot and fine particulate matter, as well as contaminants in traffic fumes, can increase the risk of getting a variety of heart and lung diseases and of dying from them.

Air pollution is responsible for around 5.5 million premature deaths worldwide every year, researchers note in The Lancet. In the UK, polluted air contributes to 40,000 deaths each year, nearly a quarter of them in London.

The current study offers fresh evidence that short-term exposure to pollution is associated with stiffening of the arteries and impaired lung function, strengthening the case for reduced vehicle emissions and more green space for exercise in cities, the researchers argue.

All of the participants in the study were non-smokers or had quit at least one year earlier. While 40 of them were healthy, 39 participants had heart disease and 40 had a breathing disorder known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Participants were randomly assigned first to do a walk in Hyde Park or on Oxford Street, then three to eight weeks later they were asked to do the other walk.

The detrimental effects of walking near traffic were most pronounced in people with COPD. These participants reported more symptoms like cough, shortness of breath and breathing after the walk on Oxford Street than in Hyde Park, and they also experienced increased arterial stiffness.

For people with heart disease, however, medication mattered. Among these participants, people only experienced increased stiffening of the arteries on Oxford Street if they weren’t taking medication to control their disease.

Based on air quality tests during each walk, it appeared that the harmful effects of walking on Oxford Street were associated with higher exposure to two byproducts of traffic exhaust: black carbon soot and ultrafine particles in the air known as PM 2.5.

One limitation of the study is that it lacked a control group of people who spent time on Oxford Street or in Hyde Park without exercising, which makes it impossible to prove how much the physical activity contributed to any changes in lung capacity or arterial stiffness, the authors note.

Even so, the study adds to the evidence that the location of exercise matter, said Dr. Dr. George Thurston, author of an accompanying editorial and director of the Program in Human Exposures and Health Effects at New York University School of Medicine.

“Given that the elimination of fossil fuel burning will not happen immediately, the public, and especially people who are most susceptible should avoid exercising near roadways with heavy traffic of diesel vehicles,” Thurston said by email.

SOURCES: bit.ly/2pcgYRR and bit.ly/2kAal6V The Lancet, online December 5, 2017.

Discarded PPE in seas a ‘new type of pollution’, French cleanup group says

UNTV News   •   June 10, 2020

FRANCE – Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, more and more protective equipment is ending up in the sea, a French clean-up group warned on Tuesday (June 9).

Volunteer divers who are part of the association Operation Mer Propre say they have seen discarded face masks and latex gloves floating underwater during their operations around the French coast for a month.

“For a month now, we’re starting to see these masks. It’s a new type of pollution,” association founder Laurent Lombard told Reuters in an interview via video call.

The main cause is littering, Lombard said.

Since France emerged from a strict eight-week lockdown last month, people are using personal protective equipment (PPE) in public and some are throwing used masks and gloves on the street. When it rains that gets washed into the sea.

Although for the moment PPE constitutes “not even 1 percent” of the total 3 tonnes of trash collected underwater by the group since its foundation last year, Lombard said he is wary that the problem could worsen as the pandemic drags on.

Aware of the situation, government leaders have called on the public to dispose of their used PPE properly.

France’s environment ministry in late May increased fines for these infractions, from 68 to 135 euros, rising to 750 euros depending on the severity of the offence.

Lombard said that the new rule should be strictly enforced.

“The message is really to throw your masks in trash bins,” he said.

“It’s a matter of common sense,” he concluded.

(Production: Ardee Napolitano, George Sargent)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.