If you live in a city or ever have, you’ll know just how thick the air can get with smog and pollution. That heavy, sooty air could be having a detrimental affect on your health and you’re breathing it in every single day.
Air pollution is made up of multiple gases that are emitted from various forms of transportation, as well as industry and construction. ‘Ground level ozone’ causes the most concern in cities though, as it is created when engine and fuel gases in the air come into contact with sunlight. When the air is still, the sun is shining and the weather is warm, city air pollution is at its worst.
Unfortunately, this poor air can take its toll on your health. Burning, itchy eyes, a persistent cough and tightness in your chest are some of the most common symptoms of air pollution. Exercising in these conditions, because it involves deep breathing, does make the symptoms worse and it could be particularly dangerous for people with heart conditions such as angina, or asthma.
Thankfully for city dwellers, there are some things you can do to reduce the impact air pollution has on your health. Here are some simple tips to keeping your health on track while living in the city:
1. Although you cannot control when you need to be outdoors because of work or social commitments, you can at least manage when and where you exercise. First rule of city exercise is if you’re going to be outdoors, try to get your workout done in the early hours of the morning or late in the evening. Traffic will have died down and the temperatures should be at their coolest, making the risk level considerably lower.
2. Finding a green space can do wonders for your workout and wellbeing if you’re used to running around a concrete jungle. Parks and trails will naturally have cleaner air than the side of a busy road because the trees and oxygen-producing plant life will boost the air purity around them. Not only is the air cleaner, but studies have found that exercising in open spaces is a stress reliever too. So join a running club, take part in an outdoor yoga class or simply get out and play some football to really reap the benefits of exercising outdoors.
3. We did say these were simple tips, and this is possibly the easiest change to make to your daily life; walk on the inside of the footpath. Walking as far away from the exhaust fumes of the cars has been proven in recent studies to dramatically reduce your exposure to toxic airborne particles that could cause asthma, bronchitis and in serious cases even stroke.
4. Air pollution essentially cuts the amount of oxygen your body can take in. If your oxygen levels are low in your bloodstream you could start to get headaches, muscle cramps and sometimes nauseous. Countryside, pollution-free air could stop these symptoms in their tracks, but when a jaunt to the great outdoors isn’t possible, oxygen-enriched air can be purchased in canister form for a quick hit of fresh air.
5. We all know that we need to have a five-a-day, but really boosting the levels of fruit and vegetables you eat will increase the toxin-fighting antioxidants in your body. Green leafy vegetables and plenty of colourful fruits like berries, oranges and cherries will give your body the nutrients it needs to fight off the effects of pollution. Opting for organic will also make a difference when it comes to staying healthy in the city.