Although jogging is a great exercise, you may want to think twice about where you’ll be doing your next few laps. NBCNews.com reports a new study in Belgium which revealed that urbanites who brave the busy streets of the metro may actually acquire high inflammation levels and slower cognitive responses.

24 volunteers were asked to jog and run alternately thrice a week from 1:00 p.m. onward for 12 days. 15 participants jogged in an urban environment, while nine did laps in a rural setting. They were then given standard tests to gauge their response time and attention span.

The findings showed that although exercise itself is good, where you do it really matters. High levels of inflammation were shown in those who ran through polluted urban streets, preventing them from getting any mental health benefits, including comprehension and brain plasticity (the ability of the brain to quickly process new knowledge). On the other hand, those who ran in a rural setting with less pollution showed better results.

This isn’t to say that you should stop running if you live or work in a congested metropolis. What you can do is to look for a place that’s a bit of a distance away from main thoroughfares, such as parks, sports centers, or university tracks. If you can, try to brave a little drizzle, as it helps clear the air of particulates, making it easier for you to breathe. Looking for great running spots? Check out our thread on GIRLTalk about the best places within the city.

(Photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira via sxc.hu)

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