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Exercising Outside and Air Pollution

By Sara Butler

Many people love to walk, bike, and run outside. There’s just something about being outside in the sunshine with a breeze on your face that makes exercise better. But if the air is full of pollution or smoke from wildfires, it can put a real damper on your outdoor fitness activities. Here are a few tips to help you exercise outside safely when air quality is an issue.

How Bad Is It?

So, is exercising outside when air quality is poor really that bad for you? Yes, it is. There’s a lot of research highlighting that pollution in the air can trigger an inflammatory response in your heart and lungs that can lead to long-term health problems. Remember, even though air doesn’t look bad, you’re breathing in large amounts of air during exercise, so you must keep an eye on air pollution.

Check Air Quality

The first thing you should do before strapping on your exercise shoes to go outside is to check the air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency has a website that can tell you about the air pollution levels in your area. It can easily tell you if it’s a good day to go outside or not.

Know the Best Times

There are certain times of the day that are better for being outside than others. In the summer months, air pollution tends to be at higher levels later in the day. You can hit your workouts in the morning during this time of the year. But in the winter, the mornings tend to be worse since the pollution tends to build in the cooler air overnight. That’s when you should work out later in the day.

It’s also a good idea to steer clear of high-traffic areas during rush hour. Fossil fuel pollutants are bad for your health, so avoiding them is always recommended.

Get Good Gear

If you think this problem can be solved with a simple surgical mask, think again. Those masks won’t keep out pollutants. You can find masks rated for particulate matter. Just remember that a mask may make it harder for you to breathe while working out, so it might be better to just stay indoors if the air pollution levels are so bad that a mask may be in order.

You can still exercise outside, simply be sure to do it safely!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Long Beach, Calif.

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