As Delhi gasps for air in the light of severe air pollution, fitness enthusiasts are finding it hard to step out and exercise. The fresh morning air has been replaced by a thick blanket of toxic smoke made of tiny particulate matter and other pollutants that can accumulate in lungs causing respiratory issues and also damage heart, worsening existing cardiovascular conditions and also putting one at increased risk of new heart ailments. So, how should morning walks or workouts be approached for the coming weeks when air quality will continue to be in ‘severe’ to ‘very’ poor category? Experts say that all outdoor physical activities should be suspended till the situation gets better as it can lead to many health troubles for people from asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), bronchitis to even heart attack. (Also read: Can air pollution trigger heart attack? Here’s what cardiologists say)
If at all you are thinking of heading outdoors for workout or otherwise, check air quality before venturing out to minimise damage due to air pollution. Gym is safer than parks when it comes to workouts in pollution season, so make it a point to regularly exercise if you have diabetes, hypertension etc to manage your conditions.
“We are being faced with the problem of pollution and morning walks are a very good form of exercise. Workouts in the morning can be very helpful, especially for people with certain metabolic disorders like diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels. But at the same time, looking at the state of the city there is lot of pollution which can also aggravate certain other respiratory conditions. It can also induce allergies or chronic issues. It can trigger off infections and especially for people with asthma COPD or bronchitis. It is better for people to wear masks and try to be away from areas which has a lot more pollution. Try to exercise and walk in greener areas in wooded areas in order to continue with the daily healthy and habits of exercise and yet also prevent ourselves from the evil pedals of air pollution,” says Dr Aditya S Chowti, Senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Cunningham, Bengaluru.
Fitness expert Aminder Singh, Founder of Team Aminder says maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial for general health during all times of the year and specifically for pollution season, certain dos and don’ts should be followed.
Dos and don’ts to be followed during pollution season
Exercise indoors: You should exercise inside when there is a lot of pollution. Indoor facilities offer a regulated setting with the potential to reduce harmful pollution through the use of air purification devices. Numerous exercises are still safe to do without sacrificing your health.
Utilize equipment: Equipment like stationary cycles, resistance bands, and weights can improve a lot of indoor workouts. These gadgets might lessen your exposure to outdoor pollution while assisting you in having a satisfying workout.
Consider the gym: If you prefer the gym environment, consider joining a local fitness centre. Gyms usually have adequate ventilation and air purification systems to create a cleaner atmosphere for exercise. It’s a safer alternative to outdoor workouts during times of high pollution.
Stay informed: Keep an eye on air quality indexes. On days when pollution levels are exceptionally high, it’s best to skip your outdoor workout altogether. Be flexible with your exercise routine and adapt it to the air quality conditions.
Avoid outdoor exercise: It is not advisable to exercise outside when there is a lot of pollution. Health issues may arise from breathing in contaminated air and the decreased oxygen supply. Pre-existing medical issues put people at more danger, therefore they should avoid exercising outside.
Breathe polluted air: There are major health risks associated with breathing in filthy air, such as cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. Workouts in highly polluted environments may exacerbate these effects. It’s imperative to put your health and wellbeing before outdoor exercise.
Disregard air quality: Pay attention to the air quality. Examine local forecasts for air quality and stay indoors during periods of excessive pollution. Pay attention to your body and put safety first.
Underestimate indoor workouts: Exercises done inside can be equally as beneficial as those done outside. You can do a lot of yoga, HIIT, and bodyweight workouts in a gym or at home. There’s no reason to jeopardize your health by working out in an unhealthy atmosphere.
“Exercise outside during periods of extreme pollution is not as beneficial to your health as they should be. It’s critical to put your health first by working out indoors, using equipment, and keeping an eye on the air quality. Always bear in mind that a healthy workout is one that improves your general health and safety. Thus, the sensible decision to exercise in highly polluted areas is to stay indoors and breathe cleaner air,” says Aminder.