More and more of the communities we live in are being affected by air pollution, or the transfer of harmful chemicals and gases across the atmosphere. Governments are getting proactive in labeling "bad air days," where a specific accumulation of some elements in the air makes it dangerous for those with asthma or similar conditions to enjoy the outdoors. For growing numbers of people, there are days when it makes more sense to stay indoors. Here are some of the reasons why an individual would choose to tailor his or her schedule around the ever-changing air pollution calendar.
- There Will Be Better Days - Those who are choosing to skip the outdoor activities on a bad air day can take comfort in the fact that the levels of air pollutants do change on a daily basis. They can identify the best days and times to get fresh air, and benefit from less intake of pollution that can irritate respiratory systems and intensify existing problems.
- Exercise and Air Intake - Another reason to schedule your fitness routines to avoid bad air days is that the body tends to suck in more of the bad stuff when running or doing other strenuous exercise. Runners and those who are working out generally inhale in a more powerful manner, bringing more air and pollutants deeper into the lungs. This can really cause respiratory problems if there is a lot of pollution floating around in the air.
- More Traffic on Local Roads - Some runners aren't fazed by taking their routes along with a stream of speeding cars and trucks. They run on the sidewalks, on the shoulders and right along with traffic. This can be a bad idea. The additional levels of pollution from passing vehicles, along with whatever else happens to be in the air that day, can cause more intake of harmful elements. Look for alternatives to running with traffic. A public park, with trails or other areas to run in, is a great public service, because it provides residents with something they can use: a track for fitness activities without the smog (and danger) of traffic.
- Sun Exposure - In a somewhat unrelated issue, some of us also have to be careful about arranging our outdoor time well and using things like hats and sunscreen to avoid a lot of direct sunlight. Skin cancer is a serious issue that is affecting many people around the world. It's not a reason to hunker down inside the house every day, but it is an additional concern with the way we use the outdoors.
Many of those who live in high air pollution areas can do more to educate themselves about the environment around them. Maybe you have already heard that there is a bad air index, but don't know what it looks like, where it's posted or what information it conveys to the public. Start with finding out how the local air advisory system works, and then use that to plan your way out of situations where you unexpectedly encounter increased air pollution. It's also possible to lobby lawmakers to take on the issue and make changes that might increase the air quality for future generations in your area.