Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cycling in London's air

It was towards the end of the consultation for my long running chest problems that my GP pointed at my cycling helmet and asked 'Do you cycle much here in London?', 'Yes' I said, 'For about 20 years now.'  'Well' he replied 'Do you think there might be any connection between that and the asthma diagnosis we have just reached?'

I was pretty aghast - cycling has been part of my life for so long now, since a Bob Crow tube strike on the district line one summer started me riding in from Richmond - that it was almost out of set for me as a possible cause of illness.  I suddenly felt a bit like a smoker sitting in the surgery complaining about their cough while taking a drag. My GP went on say that he couldn't establish a direct causal link but it was worth factoring in.  I had acute asthma as a child, but grew out of it at puberty as one tends to do and it didn't manifest like this - a cough and subtly lower energy levels.  I wore a mask when I started in the 1990 s (an early Respro I think) but like most people gave it up after a while.

So now I am on a Clenil brown inhaler and the difference is colossal.  My benchmark daily ride on a 30kg Nihola with an increasingly heavy 3yo uphill for three miles is now maybe 30% easier than before, in a higher gear and not out of breath.  This and other radically improved benchmark rides I can practically do in my sleep suggest the asthma has been around for many years.  There is also a sudden return in energy, the lack of which I had put down to parental lack of sleep and age.  Of course it could be the mild steroids in the inhaler but I am some way short of Lance Armstrong levels.

The joys of London air.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps your GP isn't a Guardian reader, or doesn't subscribe to the journal Preventive Medicine, but it would look like cycling isn't likely to be the issue. As the Guardian reported:

    In respect to air pollution, London is one of the safer cities in the world in which to cycle and walk, with the researchers finding it safe to do so all day.

    “Our model indicates that in London health benefits of active travel always outweigh the risk from pollution,” said Dr Marko Tainio from the Cambridge MRC epidemiology unit, who led the study.


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