Impact of air pollution on sedentary behavior: A cohort study of freshmen at a university in Beijing, China

Hongjun Yu, Jiali Cheng, Shelby Paige Gordon, Ruopeng An, Miao Yu, Xiaodan Chen, Qingli Yue, Jun Qiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human populations worldwide have experienced substantial environmental issues in part due to air pollution, notably in China. Gaps in the scientific literature remain regarding the relationship between air pollution and sedentary behavior among young adults in China. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of air pollution on sedentary behavior among college students living in Beijing, China. We conducted follow-up health surveys on 12,174 freshman students enrolled at Tsinghua University from 2013 to 2017. Sedentary behavior was measured using the short version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Corresponding air pollution data measured by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China were collected to include the average hourly air quality index (AQI), PM2.5, PM10, and NO2 (µg/m³). The data were analyzed using linear individual fixed-effect regressions. An increase in air pollution concentration of one standard deviation in AQI, PM2.5, PM10, and NO2 was associated with an increase in weekly total hours of sedentary behavior by 7.35 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 5.89, 8.80), 6.24 (95% CI = 5.00, 7.49), 6.80 (95% CI = 5.46, 8.15), and 7.06 (95% CI = 5.65, 8.47), respectively. In the presence of air pollution, women students tended to increase their sedentary behavior more than men. Air pollution increases sedentary behavior among freshman students living in Beijing, China. Replication of this study is warranted among various populations within China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2811
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • AQI
  • Air pollution
  • Fine particulate matter
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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