Toxic Soup - Page 2
Runners and Pollution
As runners, our heavy breathing is usually done through the mouth, which bypasses the filtering benefits of breathing through the nose. People with conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic lung disease and other respiratory problems will likely be more affected by exercising in polluted air. However, a 2004 review of worldwide pollution studies concluded it affects us all; exercising in low concentrations of pollution was just as bad as simply living (not exercising) in highly polluted areas.
However, Luisa Giles from the Environmental Physiology Lab at the University of British Columbia believes, “The body of research isn't big enough to make a solid statement either way.” There is also contradictory research that shows the acute effects are possibly lessened if the subject is fit. One recent study found that there could be long-term benefits to exercise, even in pollution, because exercise helps mitigate the inflammatory effects of the toxic air.
The Bottom Line
Is there a line where the air is so polluted that we should just stay home and not go for a run? “The science doesn't necessarily tell us if the air pollution is x, then I need to do y,” says Giles. However, most experts agree that you shouldn’t simply stop running outside, but instead be cautious of running in high-vehicle-traffic areas, using more care as the Air Quality Index increases.
Air on the Right Side | TIPS FOR RUNNING IN SMOG ZONES
>Hit the Trails
Trail runners should avoid highly polluted streets and do what they love—hit the singletrack. The farther you are from the source of the pollution the better the air quality.
>Wear a Mask
If you must run city roads on high-pollution days, consider wearing a mask.
High ozone-pollution levels require sunlight and heat, so get out early in the day before the ozone rises to harmful levels.
>Eat Your Antioxidants?
Particulate matter causes inflammation through increased oxidative stress. Eat an antioxidant-rich diet to protect against oxidative damage.