How does air pollution affect someone who exercises?


Anggid Primastiti





English / Indonesia

💡 Summary:

Data shows that the morning is not necessarily always the best time to exercise. If you are not careful, exercising in polluted air might diminish the benefits of exercise. Fortunately, there are some ways to minimize your PM2.5 exposure.

Many of you may understand how much regular exercise can improve our mental and physical health. Bustling cities and heavy work are the reasons for people to exercise to keep refresh your mind and body. But what if your exercise are hindered by air pollution? 

Exercising in polluted air increases the risk of exposure

Humans require more oxygen during exercise to produce energy for muscles. The mouth opens frequently during exercise to help us breathe, allowing gases and air pollution particles to enter the body unfiltered. This also means that the amount of air inhaled during 2 hours of exercise is the same as the amount of air inhaled during 24 hours of activity. Inhaled air pollution has been linked to decreased lung function, increased blood pressure and cardiovascular symptoms, an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and death.

Mornings in Greater Jakarta have the worst air quality

Some people believe that exercising in the morning is the best time. Because of the light traffic and cool air, many people assumed that the air quality would be ideal and would support morning sports activities. It is not always true, morning air does not always mean a good air to breathe. – if you don’t know about this, click here.

Data from nafas for July 2022 showed that PM
2.5 concentrations were high from 5 AM to 9 AM in some cities. You can see the sensor colors are red, which means the air quality is poor, at 7 AM, except for Belitung and Denpasar.

This data shows that the morning is the most optimal time to exercise is not 100% true. Instead of exercising, people are advised to stay indoors and limit their activities outside the home.

Air pollution diminishes the benefits of exercise

Exercise in polluted air reduces body performance and raises the risk of health problems. With a diameter of less than 25 micrometers, PM2.5 can enter the alveolus and circulatory tissue and travel throughout the body. This can lead to cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, and lung cancer.

Not only particles but also gases in air pollution have impacts on human health. Carbon monoxide (CO), one of the pollutant gases emitted by vehicles, can form stronger bonds with red blood cells, reducing their ability to bind and transport oxygen. CO enters the bloodstream through the lungs and binds to the oxygen-carrying red blood cells. When the amount of CO in the blood increases, exercisers' body performance suffers because the blood carries less oxygen. High CO levels in the body can impair muscle coordination.

Check the air quality first before starting outdoor exercise

There are some steps you can take to avoid exposure to air pollution. You can use the nafas app to monitor the air quality before starting to exercise outside. The nafas application will recommend exercise times based on data to reduce the risk of PM2.5 exposure.

If the outdoor air quality seems to be unhealthy, you can do it indoors. Some indoor exercises, such as yoga, gymnastics, Zumba, and treadmill workouts, can be good options. You can also use an air purifier, such as the
aria Pure40, to help regulate air circulation in your room. With healthy air quality, your exercises will become more beneficial.

Want to know how to choose a good exercise duration?
Go here.

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