Can Running Outside be Bad for You?

Picture of inversion pollution over salt lake city utah

Exposure to air pollution can have serious implications for our health, and a recent study has found that even young adults who are in optimal health can be affected by the dangers of particle pollution. The study, which focused on people between 20 and 39 years old, discovered that performing physical activity outside could actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in those exposed to high levels of air pollution.

The study found that participants who exercised outdoors while being exposed to low amounts of air pollution actually had health benefits, such as improved metabolism and better heart function. However, those who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution while exercising showed a decrease in their cardiovascular health, indicating that the risk associated with particle pollution was greater than the benefits of physical activity.

In another study, scientists at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China analyzed the performances of over 300,000 marathon runners who participated in 56 races across China between 2014 and 2015. They compared finish times with the daily air quality index (AQI) to determine how air pollution would affect performance. The AQI is a measure of air quality and safety t

The study concluded that a doubling of the AQI increased runners’ finishing times by about 4%. To put this in perspective, at the Beijing Marathon, where the AQI rose to 216 by the end of the race, it would take a runner 9.9 more minutes to cross the finish line than if they were running in a city with an AQI of 105.

Not only does air pollution negatively affect runners’ performances, it can also have long-term consequences on their respiratory health. To protect yourself when exercising outdoors, you should check local conditions and be aware of any warnings issued. Choosing your route carefully, such as nature trails and park paths away from highways or industrial areas, can also help minimize your exposure to air pollution. Lastly, you should consider adjusting the intensity of your workout if the AQI is particularly bad.

Taking these steps can help you stay healthy and minimize the effects of air pollution on both your body and your performance.

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