But with pollen and fires in some places (the fire season starts early and comes strong in the southwest, for example), is it safe to do outdoor activities that require heavy breathing?
The answer is yes — you just have to check a few things and take precautions first.
How to exercise outside safely
“If exercising outside is your passion, you need to be prepared for any type of weather,” says Kunjana Mavunda, MD, a pulmonologist at KIDZ Medical Services and a certified travel medicine specialist. “When you exercise outdoors, you are in the whim of mother nature.”
Here are some things you can do to gain as much control as possible over uncontrolled items:
1. Get out there early to beat the pollution
Try to schedule your workout early in the morning during the spring and summer months, if you can. “Maybe it’s best to exercise before 7 in the morning, before the traffic and noise starts to increase,” he says. “This is done for safety reasons as well as to avoid air pollution from vehicles.”
Dr Mavunda explains that while in big cities like New York, air pollution is always a problem, in less populated areas, the weather can make a difference. “In rural or suburban areas, it can be worse at higher temperatures simply because the gases are more volatile,” he says.
2. Check for wind, rain and pollen
Look at how much breeze is outside before tying your shoes. “Usually, during the spring and summer months, a lot of things bloom, so the wind carries it [pollen] around, “says Dr. Mavunda. “Pollen levels and the number of allergens can be very high.”
Most cities share the pollen number. If categorized as “moderate” or above, it urges people to think about staying in. Paying attention to the count is especially important, he adds, if your home is close to many open spaces and trees.
And for some people, any pollen may be too much. “If someone has pollen allergies, they probably should not exercise outside,” he says.
Exercising after the rain can also be a good idea for treating allergies, adds Dr. Mavunda, as rain washes away the pollen.
3. Hold a mask if it is smoky
Coverage is another good option when the air is smoky from a forest fire. “The mask could stop the inhalation of these particles,” he explains.
As most of us know by now, wearing a fabric face mask on the nose and mouth can be more comfortable than a K95, adds Dr. Mavunda – and she says it does a pretty good job of keeping these out. smoke particles of your lungs.
At what point should you just exercise indoors?
While you can Exercise outside when there is smoke, exhaust or extreme temperatures outside, Dr. Mavunda encourages you to consider choosing an interior with a solid air filtration system — which some gyms have installed since the pandemic began.
You can find the most up-to-date levels by checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) at AirNow. The categories “moderate” (51 to 100 AQI) and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” (101 to 150 AQI) are marked as yellow and orange, respectively. They mean that it can be moderately dangerous for people who already have respiratory problems, such as asthma, COPD or chronic sinusitis, as well as other health problems, to go outside. In the “unhealthy” red range, the value of the index is between 151 and 200 and almost everyone is at risk.
While it may feel good to do some exercise outside, it is best to save it for moments that are not a concern for health. And yes, indoor fitness is not so bad — I have to love the air conditioning and the exercises you can do while watching TV!
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