As Delhi grapples with severe air pollution, fitness enthusiasts are facing a dilemma about outdoor exercise. The crisp morning air has given way to a dense shroud of toxic smoke, consisting of fine particulate matter and other pollutants that can infiltrate the lungs, leading to respiratory problems and exacerbating heart conditions. So, how should you approach morning walks or workouts in the coming weeks when air quality is expected to remain in the ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ category? Experts recommend suspending outdoor physical activities, as exposure to pollution can have serious health implications, particularly for individuals with conditions like asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), bronchitis, and even heart problems.
If you do plan to venture outdoors for exercise or any other reason, it’s essential to check the air quality before heading out to minimize the health risks associated with pollution. During the pollution season, gyms are generally safer than outdoor parks for workouts. This is especially important if you have conditions such as diabetes or hypertension that require regular exercise for management.
Dr. Aditya S Chowti, Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine at Fortis Cunningham in Bengaluru, emphasizes the importance of exercise but also the need to protect oneself from air pollution. He suggests wearing masks, staying away from highly polluted areas, and choosing greener, wooded areas for exercise to maintain a healthy routine while mitigating the effects of pollution.
Aminder Singh, a fitness expert and the Founder of Team Aminder, underlines the significance of maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the year. However, during the pollution season, it’s crucial to follow specific dos and don’ts to safeguard your health.
Dos and Don’ts for Exercising During Pollution Season:
- Exercise Indoors: Opt for indoor workouts when pollution levels are high. Indoor facilities often have air purification systems, creating a safer environment for exercise.
- Utilize Equipment: Equipment like stationary cycles, resistance bands, and weights can enhance indoor workouts, reducing exposure to outdoor pollution.
- Consider the Gym: If you prefer a gym setting, choose a local fitness center with proper ventilation and air purification systems to ensure a cleaner exercise environment.
- Stay Informed: Monitor air quality indexes, and on days of exceptionally high pollution, consider skipping outdoor workouts. Be flexible with your exercise routine and adapt it to air quality conditions.
- Avoid Outdoor Exercise: Exercising outside in highly polluted areas is not advisable. Breathing in contaminated air can lead to health issues, particularly for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
- Breathe Polluted Air: Breathing polluted air carries significant health risks, including cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. Exercising in highly polluted environments can exacerbate these risks. Prioritize your health and avoid outdoor exercise.
- Disregard Air Quality: Pay attention to air quality forecasts, and stay indoors during periods of high pollution. Prioritize safety and listen to your body.
- Underestimate Indoor Workouts: Indoor exercises, such as yoga, HIIT, and bodyweight workouts, can be equally effective. There’s no need to compromise your health by exercising in an unhealthy atmosphere.
Aminder emphasizes that exercising outdoors during periods of extreme pollution is not as beneficial for your health as it should be. To prioritize your well-being, opt for indoor exercise, use equipment, and stay informed about air quality. A healthy workout is one that improves your overall health and safety, so making the sensible choice to exercise indoors and breathe cleaner air is crucial.