Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Air We Breathe (and the stuff that comes with it)

Every now and then I pick up a copy of Women's Health Magazine. It's a great magazine that for one reason or another (ie: Woody's strong dislike of clutter) I don't have a subscription to but would probably save a lot of money if I did! I got the Matt Damon/Emily Blunt issue the other day and starting thumbing through it at a coffee shop. Right away I landed on an article about the effects poor air quality can have on people who exercise outdoors.

Being a city dweller who prefers running outdoors, this instantly grabbed my attention. It's pretty obvious that city streets in mid-town probably aren't the best places to run or bike. And even the  path that mingles between the West Side Highway and the Hudson River probably isn't the cleanest area either. But I've always assumed that the healthy act of running would offset the harmful effects that pollutants might have. I spend time walking through mid-town and that can't be worse than running along the water, right?

Well, turns out I've been wrong! I don't want to give away the entire article, but apparently while the air is cleaner than it was 30 years ago, it still has a long way to go and we are often breathing in soot, dust, aerosol and even metal while we're outdoors. Breathing heavily means we're breathing in more oxygen, and while this can be a good thing, it also means we're breathing in more of the nasty stuff than if we were just strolling down the sidewalk.

Studies have shown that bikers and runners who exercise in polluted conditions show signs of diminished performance. Over a long period of time, it can even lead to lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and more unpleasant health events that we're trying to prevent by exercising.

While this information does worry me a bit, it's not going to stop me from running outside. There are many benefits from being outdoors and as long as I stick to my morning routine and perhaps stay in on the hot summer days when we have air quality alerts, I think I'll be fine. Plus, I now have more incentive to make the trip uptown to Central Park to run!

The article gave provided these links to check local air quality before heading outside:

For the whole story by Katherine Bowers, pick up an issue before they're on to the next one, or read it here.

  • How's the air where you live and play?
  • Have you ever changed your plans because of bad air quality?
Last night's workout -
3x12 seated row
100 crunches
3x10 glute kickbacks

Today's workout -
5x800 repeats w/ 400m jogs between
3x10 lateral raise
lots of stretching


Romantisch Hotel Bruges said...

Nice image location photo shoot and and great story thanks for the posting I really impress and happy to after read this story.

Michelle said...

I lived in South Korea for a few years and I could really tell the difference when I moved here with the air. I also went to China for vacation and tried running in Beijing and that was a huge mistake...

Lisa said...

I've heard the air quality is horrible in Beijing. I remember seeing images from there before the olympics, that they held a marathon and runners wore polos and khaki shorts and stopped for smoke breaks. It was incredible. I don't think half of the runners finished!

SueMac said...

I live outside the city in of the the first suburbs when you leave the city.... so I'm pretty close. I usually run in the morning when the air quality is better and won't change, I don't think. Oh, and that header is picture is gorgeous!