Exercise and Air Pollution

Map Courtesy Environmental Protection Agency AirNow.gov
Air pollution can be a problem if you exercise outdoors. Air pollution comes from both natural and man-made sources. Pollutants are substances in the environment which lower the environment’s quality. Pollutants, such as sulfur oxides and lightning, are produced by lightning and volcanic activity of the Earth. Primary air pollutants are produced by human activity and include substances, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Pollutants interact with the air. The result is more pollution in the form of ozone, sulfates and aldehydes which causes smog.
Pollution can have serious negative effects on your body. Carbon monoxide binds to your red blood cells which reduces your blood’s ability to absorb oxygen. Ozone causes upper respiratory irritation and irritation of the air passages inside your lungs. Smog can irritate your eyes causing them to be itchy, watery and red. There are some things you can do to reduce pollution’s effect on your body when you exercise outdoors during times of high pollution.
Breath through your nose to prevent pollutants from directly entering your lungs. The nose and nasal cavity is lined with mucous producing cells that help to remove irritants. 
Schedule your outdoor activity during times when pollution levels are lowest. Early in the morning and late in the evening may be better times to exercise outdoors. 
Exercise outdoors away from traffic. Instead of running or jogging on a heavily traveled street, choose to run in a park. If you must run or jog on a street, avoid exercising during peak traffic times. 
On days when pollution levels are high, exercise indoors if possible. 
You can check the pollution levels in your area and keep up with air quality alerts by going to AirNow.gov

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