Should People Care About Pollution When Exercise In City?

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Living in a big city has many benefits, from convenience to culture and opportunities. But because cities have more people (and cars and buses), they often have a less surprising benefit: air pollution.

Air pollution poses a serious threat to the environment. But what about on a personal level? Do these pollutants in the air endanger your health - especially if you enjoy outdoor sports?

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Does air pollution pose a risk to outdoor sports?

There's no way: Air pollution can negatively affect your health. But how negative the impact is depends on a variety of factors."The risk and/or severity of the risk depends on the level of the contaminant, the type of contaminant and existing conditions that make breathing more difficult, such as asthma," said Pseudorusia Smoak, PhD, MPH, associate professor of health Services at Peking University and chair of the American Public Health Association's Division of Physical Activity.

So if you live in a heavily polluted area and have respiratory problems, your risk of pollution-related complications while exercising outdoors is higher than someone with a healthy respiratory system who lives in a city with cleaner air.Outdoor exercise (and all the heavy breathing that comes with good exercise!) It also increases the risk. Smoak says, "This is because during exercise, more air is drawn deeper into the lungs -- usually through the mouth rather than the nose, which filters pollutants."

What are the effects of outdoor exercise if your city has high levels of air pollution?

So outdoor sports in polluted areas are risky. But what are those risks? Smoak says studies show potential side effects of outdoor exercise in areas with high air pollution "include headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, increased risk of asthma, and even increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and lung cancer."The side effects, if any, of outdoor exercise in polluted areas vary from person to person. But in general, in the short term, side effects can include more serious and temporary problems (such as eye, throat and nose irritation), while sustained exercise in high air pollution environments can lead to more serious long-term effects (such as chronic cardiovascular or respiratory problems).

Should air pollution stop you from exercising outdoors?

You live in a city with serious air pollution. Breathing polluted air during exercise is a potential risk. So, the question is, should these risks keep you from tying your shoes and playing outdoors?The answer is, probably not. "Studies have found that the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks of air pollution," Smoak said. Like a 2016 study, the study found that the benefits of outdoor physical activities, such as walking or cycling, "outweighed the harm caused by air pollution at all but the most extreme concentrations."

However, there are exceptions. People who may be at high risk of pollution-related complications (for example, those with respiratory conditions) should consult a doctor before deciding whether they should exercise outdoors in areas with high levels of air pollution.

How can outdoor exercise reduce the risk of air pollution

While the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks of air pollution for most people, that doesn't mean you have to completely ignore those risks. There are definitely steps you can take to reduce the risks associated with air pollution when running, biking, or doing other outdoor sports, including:

1.Monitor air quality. "Air pollution is measured using the Air Quality Index (AQI) on a scale of 1 to 500," Smoak said. Before going out to exercise, check the AIR quality index for your area (you can use an app to monitor real-time AIR quality index data, such as the EPA's AirNow app) to make sure it's at a safe level. "Unhealthy air quality is considered 151 or higher," Smoak said. If you have a problem that puts you at higher risk, you need a lower target AQI. "For sensitive people, 101 degrees is considered unhealthy," Smoak said.

2.Your workout time. Air quality indexes are usually high at certain times of the day. "Timing exercise based on your usual AQI levels, such as avoiding peak and warm times of the day," is a good way to minimize risk, Smoak says.

3.Put on a mask. Studies have found that masks protect against particulate pollution -- in other words, from breathing in pollutants in the air. While some masks are more effective than others, even less effective is better than none -- so if you're worried about air pollution while exercising outdoors, you'd better wear a mask.

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