This is a growing concern for runners, cyclist and hikers, really for anyone who likes to exercise outside. With the local wild fire in Southern California and the smell of smoke in the air it got me thinking of air quality and whether or not I should be running, even on the days there’s no smoke. Are the pollutants in the air causing irreversible damage and ultimately defeating the purpose of trying to be active and healthy? Unfortunately there are no clear cut answers but here is what I learned.
When I was looking up information for this post I found that most articles stated that there has not been enough long term research to really give a definitive answer regarding the long term effects of pollution and exercising outdoors when air quality is particularly bad. The constant I found was that the benefits out-weighed the risks. Exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which counteracts problems such as heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, etc. In addition the body naturally protects itself against harmful irritants by forming a protective barrier. The human body is amazing…it will adapt.
Having said that, it is still wise to avoid running (cycling, strenuous hiking) when the air quality is poor. (smoke from wild fires)
I hope this has enlightened some of you. It has me. I have been running on the streets for a lot of years and I generally avoid heavy traffic times but now I’m thinking of moving my routes to neighborhood streets. I try to eat foods that contain antioxidants but I will be more diligent now. 🙂
Do you worry about air pollution?
Have you had to bring your workout indoors because of smoggy days?