Exercising in the city can be challenging at times due to fluctuating air pollution levels. If you like to spend your time actively outdoors, you should definitely take the air quality into account when planning your exercise routine. Practicing sports outside, you’re at a much higher risk of exposure than the regular passers-by. Sports is supposed to make you stronger and healthier – but by choosing the wrong time and place and avoiding personal protective measures, you may, unfortunately, achieve the opposite effect.
Not everybody likes to practice inside their own house or at the gym – and some sports cannot really be practiced outside. Let’s take, for instance, running or biking. You can use the treadmill, elliptical cross-trainer, or a stationary bicycle – but not everybody is enthusiastic about such alternatives. No wonder why so many choose outdoor practice instead. When the air is pure, it’s a perfect choice – you can oxygenate and get some more vitamin D through sun exposure. However, if the city is covered with smog, running outside means playing around with your health.
When you exercise physically, you start breathing deeper and faster. It’s because your body needs more energy, which means it should get more oxygen than usual. Thus, when the air pollution levels are high, you inhale more pollutants than when you’re simply walking since the frequency of breaths is way higher.
The fact that you may be exposed to air pollution when exercising outdoors in the city doesn’t have to stop you from doing so. There are various ways in which you can limit the risk of exposure. What are they?
If you do sports on a daily basis and cannot imagine a day without practice, you should use air quality monitoring to optimize your exercise routine. It’s easy and free – all you need to do is download an app that provides you with access to real-time stats on air quality.
The real-time factor is really significant here, since the pollution levels can be radically different within the area of one city. The neighborhood that has been polluted in the morning may have clear air at noon – it’s enough that the weather changes slightly. During the rush hour, the pollution levels usually spike to go down in the evening time. That’s why monitoring the actualized stats is crucial to your safety.
If the day is windy, it is far more likely that the air will be clean. It’s the lack of wind that facilitates the formation of smog. If you see there are some mild blows, it might be a perfect day to go for outdoor exercise. On the other hand, if the day is hazy and cold, it might be better to give up the training in the park or at least adopt protective measures while exercising. The mist around is very likely to be smog that formed as a result of burning carbon.
The modern air pollution monitoring apps provide you with access to forecasts which are recently becoming increasingly accurate. The amount of data we gather enables predicting future spikes through the analysis of previous air pollution patterns. Following the air pollution forecasts will help you with planning your exercise routine.
Running or biking in a mask may feel odd at first, but it’s definitely worth it if you don’t want to reschedule your training due to bad air quality. If you see in your air quality monitoring app that the pollution levels are high, make sure to wear a mask with both HEPA and carbon filters. This way, you will stop the particulate matter from entering your respiratory system and neutralize the toxic gases at the same time. For the highest level of protection, choose the FFP3 or N99 filters.
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