November 13, 2007

When exercise can be harmful

Exercise is great. It’s good for your physical, mental as well as your emotional well-being. But exercising outdoors is not as healthy and as safe as it used to – especially in cities where pollution is rampant. Recently it was mentioned in the Daily Mail that air pollution caused by diesel exhaust fumes could cause heart attacks and strokes. So experts have advised people with known heart conditions to exercise away from traffic, to be on the safer side.

People living in cities with high pollution levels should be extra cautious about exercising outdoors as the possible damage to health far outweighs the benefits from exercise. Air quality is something which everyone should be concerned about. Don’t assume that all this advice is meant for only sensitive persons and those with asthma, heart disease, dust-allergy and other lung problems. Breathing dirty air can affect anyone, says the American Lung Association (ALA). The American Council on Exercise (ACE), recommends avoiding Strenuous Outdoor Exercise in Unhealthy Air Quality. It further elucidates, “During exercise, where mouth breathing plays an important role, the body’s normal air filtration process is much less efficient, and more pollutants reach the lungs. These pollutants may interfere with the body’s ability to carry oxygen, forcing the heart to pump harder, irritate the eyes, constrict air passages and lower the body’s resistance upper respiratory illness and colds.”

So, exercisers should pay heed to air quality reports and should refrain from exercising when pollution is at a “dismally high” level.” There is a standard system to determine the levels of pollution called as Air Quality Index (AQI) with a range from 0 to 500; 0-50, being the safest and 301-500, being the most hazardous level.

The guidelines outlined by ALA:

* Plan your activities and exercise sessions when the smog levels are low, that is when AQI is low and learn to protect yourself and your dear ones from the untoward effects of air pollution. Get to know about AQI levels from your local newspaper, TV news or the internet.

* Avoid roadways frequented by heavy traffic. Running on such roads is equivalent to inhaling carbon monoxide from a packet of cigarettes a day. And maintain a distance of at least 30 feet from moving cars and exhaust fumes they release.

* Stop exercising immediately if you detect any sign of chest constriction, coughing or wheezing.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:09 AM

    Exercising outdoors when pollution is severe may exacerbate symptoms. People with asthma, emphysema or angina may have more symptoms than healthier people.When air pollution levels are high, staying inside can help reduce symptoms. Exercise indoors to reduce the amount of polluted air you breathe. If you do go outside, try to limit outdoor activity to early in the morning or later in the evening when pollution levels are likely to be lower.



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