Is it Right to run on a Bad Air Day?

By Dr. Ashish Jain in Pulmonology

Nov 11 , 2016 | 2 min read

The positive effects of running are sufficient enough to outweigh the negative effects of pollution because regular exercising can extend your life.

You have a run scheduled and all you see around is smoke and pollution. This should not worry you because if you focus on being flexible and adjusting your running schedule, it can increase your performance and give you a higher chance of breathing clean air.   

For runners it is essential to know the perils of smog:

There is a higher chance that a runner can feel a tickling in their throat; a hoarse, rough and scratchy voice? They can also have symptoms like chest pain, coughing, shortness of a breath and severe headache. And worse, the air pollution can decrease the athletes’ performance.

The harmful effects of the pollution are because of particulate matter, Ozone and sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide which may precipitate the asthma attacks. Carbon monoxide that is emitted from automobile exhaust and concentrates in smog reduces an athletes’ performance because it binds with hemoglobin and decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of the lung.

What can runners’ do in this pollution?

The concern over air pollution is a real threat to an athlete. During this season, with PM 2.5 levels to be the highest at night and morning when people go for morning walks, this is a good reason to be concerned about smog this time. The polluted air has enormous toxic compounds that can negatively affect an athlete’s exercise performance.

Therefore, it is essential for runners/joggers to be smart and know where they are doing their exercise. It is wise to think about how to minimize your risk to air pollution before you begin a run. Few tips for a Runner:

- Start Early:  A runner should begin his run early because when sunlight reacts with the pollutants, the pollution keeps rising at its peak throughout the day.

- Wear a Mouth mask:  N95-rated masks block 95% of particles. Though proper fit can be a   little challenging but it can ensure safety.

- Consume antioxidants diet: The antioxidants supplements are responsible for reducing the oxidative damage like Vitamin C and E. Before you begin a run, eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables like broccoli, melon, and red peppers. 

- Get wrap around sunglasses or clear glasses to cut exposure to dust n smog when out. This is all the more applicable for contact lens wearers.

- Athletes can undergo a test called as methacholine challenge. The drug narrows lung airways, and its effect increases when the most toxic component is smog.

In case the condition worsens or the symptoms persist, it is important to check with your doctor when it is safe for you to run.


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