Exercising Outdoors? Here’s How You Are Inviting Health Problems

In Faridabad city, where there is the hustle and bustle of daily life, many people have a deep love for outdoor activities. One such spirited and health-conscious woman named Muskan was passionate about fitness. She spent most of her free time cycling, running, and practicing yoga in nearby parks.

One early morning, Muskaan woke up feeling energized. She was eager to start her day with a refreshing run and some yoga. She got ready, laced her running shoes, and headed out into the crisp morning air. 

Unknown to Muskan, the pollution levels that day in the city, which already has poor AQI on most days, was significantly higher than usual due to a combination of factors:

  1. An increase in traffic yesterday
  2. The presence of nearby industrial areas
  3. Unfavorable weather conditions. 

Muskan breathed deeply, taking in the seemingly fresh air as she set off on her run. However, she was unaware of the invisible harmful air that lurked within.

As she pushed herself, step after step, km after km, Muskan began noticing a slight irritation in her throat and some tightness in her chest. She initially ignored the discomfort and attributed it to exertion. She moved on, determined to reach her today’s goal. The air pollution, however, had already started to take its toll.

As Muskan continued her vigorous exercise that day, her body, unable to filter out the harmful pollutants, surrendered to their adverse effects. The high levels of particulate matter, toxic gases, and dust began to inflame her airways. Her breathing became labored and wheezy. Despite giving her best efforts, she had to stop in the middle and go back home.

She stayed ill for a week facing breathing issues and chest tightness. She consulted a doctor and took some medications that didn’t work.

Muskan’s immune system, which had always been robust, was now under attack due to air pollution. The prolonged exposure to air pollutants weakened her body’s defense mechanisms, making her more vulnerable to respiratory illness, breathing issues, and allergic reactions. 

After two weeks, Muskan saw no improvement, and her symptoms worsened. She developed severe symptoms such as:

  1. persistent coughing
  2. frequent bouts of fatigue
  3. breathlessness on little activity
  4. chest pain
  5. poor immunity
  6. affected athletic performance

Muskan was concerned about her health, so she researched, spoke with pollution experts, and discovered that exercising outdoors in a city with poor AQI is unsafe.  The studies also show that the benefits of exercise to the respiratory system and cardiovascular health may be offset under AP conditions. 

Determined, Muskan knew one thing: not exercising was not the solution. Protecting herself from air pollution while exercising outdoors indeed can. 

Here’s how Muskan made sure she was safe while willing to exercise every day. Read these steps to know how you can protect yourself from air pollution during physical activity:

  1. If possible, exercise indoors, like at home or in indoor gyms.
  2. Exercise in areas with cleaner air, like parks away from major roads with heavy traffic. 
  3. Wear a mask outdoors to block air pollutants.
  4. If working out on a day with poor AQI, reduce your workout’s intensity and time interval.
  5. Monitor the air quality index daily, then plan your physical activity.
  6. Run or jog early in the morning when the air is fresh compared to day or evening.
  7. On days when air pollution is high, shift to indoor exercises.

All these little steps helped Muskan continue her workout without being affected by air pollution. Moreover, she adopted a well-balanced diet of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to boost her immunity. She also added green veggies, fruits, and lean proteins to her meals.

Inspired by her journey, Muskan joined Wingify Earth’s clean air campaign and worked to spread air pollution awareness. She also shared this story with her other friends and family who work outdoors in cities with high air pollution. 

Muskan’s story should remind us that while we may not always be able to control the environment around us, we can take small steps to protect ourselves. Through her determination and resilience, she reclaimed her health and resumed her physical journey. 

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