Working Out in a Polluted World

How to get a good workout in the face of smog, smoke, and general pollution.

Temecula personal trainerNo matter where you live, getting some much-needed exercise in the great outdoors is always a welcome change of pace. But what if your leisurely run through the streets and alleyways of your city are actually causing more harm to your body than the amount of benefit your workout affords you?

If you live in an area full of automobiles and other pollution-causing agents, take a few steps to exercise smarter while in the great concrete jungle.

Hit It Early
Though it may be painful to think of waking up an hour earlier than usual, you may want to consider it if
you're set on exercising outside. By taking your run during the morning hours, you get out before much of the day's traffic is on the roads. Because of this, the level of ozone in the air is lower during the morning.

While you want to maintain the ozone layer miles above your head, ozone in the air you breathe can cause all sorts of illness and injury to your organs. In fact, ozone is responsible for corrosion you see on statues, monuments, and large rocks in the woods, so it shouldn't be surprising that sucking down excessive ozone can cause substantial damage to your lungs and other body parts. Get out early and you'll deal with less ozone than your late-exercising peers.

Practice Moderation
As with most things in life, exercising outdoors is best done in moderation if you live in a highly polluted area of the world. Because while you may not feel the impact of the pollution you breathe during your runs every morning, that ozone can be silently killing you from the inside out.

Instead of risking excessive exposure to dangerous pollutants, find a way to keep your exercise routine indoors most of the time. Have a hunger for the great outdoors that can't be quenched with an indoor running track, treadmill, or stationary bicycle? Get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and find a secluded area that is filled with trees and other plant life for your running, riding, and other outdoor exercises. By seeking these areas, you'll distance yourself from higher concentrations of pollutants and be surrounded by oxygen-producing plants and trees.

Advocate for Yourself
There are some folks who should never spend time working out beyond the confines of a local gym. If you have a respiratory or lung disease, such as emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, don't exercise outside at all without the consent and close monitoring of your physician.

Additionally, pay attention to your body and call it quits when you've had enough of the exhaust and cigarette smoke. Signs that it's time to get inside include difficulty breathing, headache, rise in body temperature, confusion, and dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately to ensure you do not suffer further complications.

The Other Danger
Ozone isn't the only outdoor danger you'll face when exercising in a large, densely populated city. Anytime you're working out in these areas, you'll also need to be aware of cars, trucks, vans, and other motor vehicles that pose an immediate threat to your safety.

To avoid being struck and even killed by traffic, follow the following common-sense tips:

  • look both ways before crossing the street
  • always cross streets at crosswalks
  • use sidewalks when available
  • never expect drivers to see you
  • ride your bicycle with traffic
  • follow all rules of the road when bike riding


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