What about exercise and air quality?

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Many people prefer to exercise outdoors, such as running or playing sports, so it is important to understand the links between air quality and our health.

We breathe in more air when we’re exercising

When we exercise, our bodies need more oxygen than normal because we are breathing faster. If the air we breathe is polluted, it can affect our respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It is better for our bodies if we only exercise outdoors when the air is clean. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.

Avoid prolonged outdoor exercise when the AQI is RED 

If you do want to exercise outdoors, use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to determine the risk. If the AQI score for your area is above 151 (red, purple, or maroon/brown on the colour scheme), it means the air is unhealthy. It is best to avoid intense and prolonged exercise outdoors, but light outdoors exercise is permitted.

Sensitive groups should avoid prolonged outdoor exercise when the AQI is ORANGE

Vulnerable groups of people such as children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease should also avoid exercising outside if the AQI is between 101 and 150 (orange). This is because these groups are more sensitive to pollutants like PM2.5, so even lower levels of air pollution can have a significant impact on their health.

Safest to exercise when the AQI is GREEN and YELLOW

It is safest to exercise outdoors when the AQI is between 0 and 100 (green or yellow). Simply put, the lower the AQI, the safer it is. Air pollution and AQI scores can vary significantly throughout the day. In Jakarta, the AQI tends to be lower in the afternoon, so it is important to always check the most recent AQI value.

If possible, you should exercise indoors on high air pollution days. If you can’t exercise indoors, try to choose the best location possible to exercise outdoors. Even short distances from sources of pollution like major roads can make a difference, as can the presence of trees. Exercising in a green space like a park is a good solution.

There are other actions we can also take to better protect ourselves and our families from air pollution. Click through to learn more.