Best Tips By Experts How To Exercise During Killer Air Pollution

As the winters approach, so does the smog. Do you know what is smog? Smog is made up of two words: "Smoke" and "Fog". When air pollution spreads like a cloud everywhere, it is called smog. It makes the environment murky. It is very hazardous and unhealthy situation for everyone. So, should you step out and perform your regular physical activities? Should you workout in gym? Would it be safe to walk or run in this environment? What safety measures should you take to minimize the effects of air pollution?

Lets’ find out!!!

What Is Air Pollution

Air Pollution
Air Pollution

According to WHO air pollution is defined as contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment. The environment can be contaminated by different types of pollutants. The pollutants may be any chemical, physical or biological agent which modifies the natural features of the atmosphere. 

What Are The Main Causes Of Air Pollution

There are a number of factors which can be responsible for air pollution however, the main causes of air pollutions are:
  • Domestic combustion.
  • Motor vehicles or Automobiles especially which run on fossil fuels.
  • Industrial facilities: Factories and industries are held responsible for release of carbon monoxide, organic compounds, hydrocarbons and other chemicals into atmosphere.
  • Wildfires and Volcanoes.
  • Mining: It causes release of a large number of dust and chemicals in the air which not only deteriorate the atmosphere but also the health of the workers and individuals/society living in the nearby zones.

Diseases Caused By Air Pollution

There are many air pollutants, however, particulate matter (PM) is the mostly discussed and investigated pollutant. It has major hazardous impact on health. PM are very small in size. These can be solid as well as liquid suspended particles. Particulate matter (PM) can be classified as coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5). The deposition of PM of any size can cause inflammation in the respiratory tract or any other organ like eyes. PM may be responsible for cardiovascular and systemic illness if their size is very small. The smallest PM can cross alveolar barrier and reach the blood circulation resulting in systemic disease. 

  • Irritation of eyes, 
  • Irritation in nose, mouth and throat
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease –COPD
  • Lung function Impairment
  • Pneumonia
  • Reduced Immunity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke 
  • Neurobehavioral disorders 
  • Lung and other types of cancer like Leukemia, Liver cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Premature death

Should You exercise in Air Pollution

Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, jogging or other moderate physical activities are beneficial for physical and mental health. The lung ventilation while performing aerobic exercise is more as compare to normal ventilation. Hence, there are high chances to inhale more pollutants during aerobic activities. Therefore, air pollution can be a threat to these benefits. So, what should you do? Should you stop exercising till air pollution comes under control?

How To Protect and Perform Exercise In Rising Air Pollution

  • Avoid outdoor physical activities when pollution is high and air quality is bad.
  • Avoid walking, running or jogging or exercising near busy roads or places where traffic is high.
  • Prefer parks or other green areas for physical activities. Roads and streets with traffic are major hotspot of air pollution.
  • Avoid performing physical activities during rush hours when traffic is at its peak. 
  • Breathing should be done through nose as much as possible. 
Treadmill At Gym
Treadmill At Gym
  • Perform Indoor Exercise. Walking and stair climbing are some physical activities which can be performed easily at home or in mall. Use of stationary bicycle or treadmills at home are also good option. You can also join a gym for indoor physical activities.
  • Decrease the Intensity of Exercise: High intensity exercise require high lung ventilation. The increase lung function may expose the lungs to inhale more pollutants.
  • Shorten the Duration of Exercise: Longer duration of exercises increase the chances of inhalation of more pollutants. Therefore, you need to keep your exercise or physical activity for a short period only.
Use A Proper Mask
Use A Proper Mask 
  • Wear Good Quality Mask. Using a proper mask can protect you against bad air quality. Masks can protect you from dirt, dust and other pollutants.
  • Patient suffering from asthma should always carry inhaler with them.

One of the main risk factors for serious noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer and cardiometabolic disease, is physical inactivity. Physical activity has well-known favourable effects on physical and mental health. It improves quality of life, cognitive function, and help in maintaining a healthy weight. Excess fatalities from noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease (mostly brought on by air pollution), type 2 diabetes, and specific types of malignancies, have been linked to both air pollution and physical inactivity. Particularly, the incidence of diabetes is significantly higher in locations with polluted air, with air pollution elements playing a key role in low grade inflammation and altered lipid metabolism. High level of air pollution can make it more difficult to engage in physical activity. 

Regular exercise is generally thought to improve somatic and mental health, but it can also affect how much air pollution is taken in and deposited in the lungs and airways because of increased breathing frequency and minute ventilation, which raises the risk of several noncommunicable diseases, mostly of cardiorespiratory origin.

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  1. For me, I lived in Beijing and I went swimming or I went to the gym. Absolutely wasn't healthy to go outside when the air was bad as sad as it is. I know many people who rode their bikes in Beijing and they got respiratory problems that are really bad. Good article about a super important subject!! thanks so much for sharing!

  2. This is something I had not considered enough; great info (much needed) so thank you for sharing this. Exercise is an important part of the day and being aware of air pollution and its impacts on being able to do it safely/well was very useful.

  3. Honestly, I have never even considered air pollution when working out. I'm lucky to live in a place that has little air pollution.

  4. When my daughter was born in November 2016, I had to spend 4 days in hospital. There were 5 new moms and their babies in the same ward and as the hospital staff wanted to make sure nobody was cold, they turned the heating so much that by the morning the heat was intolerable. One of the moms opened the window to let some fresh air in. Shortly after that, one of the nurses rushed in and started yelling, 'What are you doing here?! There's a smog alarm going on! Nobody's allowed to open windows or leave the building over the next two days!' That was a traumatic event for me.


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