The benefits of exercise are undeniable. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help improve mood, boost energy levels and increase mental clarity. But what about the air quality? Air pollution is a serious problem worldwide, with outdoor air quality being terrible in many metropolitan areas. If you’re looking for an enjoyable way to stay healthy while also helping reduce air pollution, then this guide’s for you!
Keep a Healthy Distance from the Road
Roads are some of the dirtiest environments for outdoor air quality, and they pose a serious threat to your health. Studies show that you can inhale unhealthy amounts of car exhaust fumes if you exercise close enough to roads (within 50 meters). If possible, try to find areas with little to no road access and plan your route accordingly.
Check Air Quality before Exercise
Know before you go! Your smartphone can be a great resource for checking outdoor air quality in your area. Check your favorite weather app for “air quality” or similar terminology – apps may also give recommendations on how bad conditions are and what symptoms these levels might cause (e.g., pollen count). If air quality is poor, consider rescheduling your workout until it has cleared up.
Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks
Since you’re exercising outside, chances are it’s probably very hot or humid where you are. It goes without saying that exercising at high pollution levels can be tough on your body, which is already under stress from the environment. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, and consider taking more frequent breaks than usual. This will help minimize physical discomfort while removing toxins from the body at a faster rate. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and stay hydrated to avoid heatstroke or other related conditions.
Enlist Help from Nature
Exercising in nature can be highly beneficial for outdoor air quality! A study in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning found that exercising in green spaces significantly reduced symptoms of asthma and allergies, also having an overall positive effect on the quality of life. If you’re able, try to find a location with vegetation to help improve your local air quality while working out!
Choose Outdoor Workouts Wisely
Try not to perform high-intensity interval training outdoors when pollution levels are extremely high (e.g., rush hour). Rather than making sprints for short periods of time, try walking or jogging instead, as these activities produce less physical stress on your body and can help reduce symptoms if you’re sensitive to poor air quality.
Avoid Heavy Physical Exertion During High Pollution Levels
If you exercise outside during heavy pollution, you’ll likely inhale significantly larger amounts of toxins than normal – increasing your risk for problems like asthma or other respiratory conditions. Consider rescheduling your workout for when air quality is better or changing up your routine to limit exertion (e.g., going for a long walk instead of running). This is equally true during times where there is wildfire smoke in the air. If you work out inside, you can take advantage of air purification systems. Choose the best air purifiers for wildfire smoke.
Get the Right Gear
Some outdoor exercise equipment is more effective at keeping you physically separated from pollution. For instance, a treadmill or stationary bike will minimize contact with car exhaust fumes, whereas an elliptical might not (because you’re standing on it). If possible, look for machines that have been designed to reduce pollution exposure – study results show they do make a difference!
While out of our control, air quality is still an important factor in staying healthy. That’s why it’s important to know your options for exercising outdoors, especially when at high pollution levels. By following these guidelines, you can keep yourself safe while minimizing exposure to toxins from the environment!