INDIANAPOLIS – A comprehensive marathon study from the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine indicates poor air quality may hinder women’s marathon times.
The study, led by researcher Linsey Marr, Ph.D., evaluated marathon race results, weather data and air pollutant concentrations in seven marathons over a period of 8 to 28 years. The top three male and female finishing times were compared with the course record and contrasted with air pollutant levels, taking high temperatures (detrimental to performance) into consideration.
Higher levels of particles in the air were associated with slower performance times for women. Men were not significantly affected.
“Although pollution levels in these marathons rarely exceeded national standards for air quality, performance was still affected,” Marr said.
Evaluation consisted of major U.S. marathons in cities such as New York, Boston and Los Angeles, where pollution tends to be highest. Although the person might not be significantly impacted by low-yet-still-acceptable air quality, marathoners are atypical because of their breathing patterns.
“Previous research has shown that during a race, marathon runners inhale and exhale about the same volume of air as a sedentary person would over the course of two full days,” Marr said. “Therefore, runners are exposed to much greater amounts of pollutants than under typical breathing conditions.”
Particulate matter appeared to be the only performance-altering factor in air quality, with carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide levels not impacting race times.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
NOTE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 42, No. 3, pages 585-591) or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200 ext. 127 or 133. Visit ACSM online at www.acsm.org.
The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.