Effects of physical activity and air pollution on blood pressure

Ione Avila-Palencia, Michelle Laeremans, Barbara Hoffmann, Esther Anaya-Boig, Glòria Carrasco-Turigas, Tom Cole-Hunter, Audrey de Nazelle, Evi Dons, Thomas Götschi, Luc Int Panis, Juan Pablo Orjuela, Arnout Standaert, Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


AIM: To assess the main and interaction effects of black carbon and physical activity on arterial blood pressure in a healthy adult population from three European cities using objective personal measurements over short-term (hours and days) and long-term exposure.

METHODS: A panel study of 122 healthy adults was performed in three European cities (Antwerp, Barcelona, and London). In 3 seasons between March 2015 and March 2016, each participant wore sensors for one week to objectively measure their exposure to black carbon and monitor their physical activity continuously. Blood pressure was assessed three times during the week: at the beginning (day 0), in the middle (day 4), and at the end (day 7). Associations of black carbon and physical activity with blood pressure and their interactions were investigated with linear regression models and multiplicative interaction terms, adjusting for all the potential confounders.

RESULTS: In multiple exposure models, we did not see any effects of black carbon on blood pressure but did see effects on systolic blood pressure of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity effect that were statistically significant from 1 h to 8 h after exposure and for long-term exposure. For a 1METhour increase of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, the difference in the expected mean systolic blood pressure varied from -1.46 mmHg (95%CI -2.11, -0.80) for 1 h mean exposure, to -0.29 mmHg (95%CI -0.55, -0.03) for 8 h mean exposure, and -0.05 mmHg (95%CI -0.09, -0.00) for long-term exposure. There were little to no interaction effects.

CONCLUSIONS: Results from this study provide evidence that short-term and long-term exposure to moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is associated with a decrease in systolic blood pressure levels. We did not find evidence for a consistent main effect of black carbon on blood pressure, nor any interaction between black carbon and physical activity levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date04 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants
  • Air Pollution/statistics & numerical data
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cities
  • Environmental Exposure/statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • London
  • Particulate Matter


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