Safety tips for exercising outdoors

(NC) As the weather warms, more of us are choosing to work up a sweat outside instead of exercising indoors.

People participating in exercise and sports breathe more deeply and rapidly, which allows more air pollution to enter the lungs. This puts those who are active at greater risk when air quality is poor.

That’s why it’s important to consider outdoor air quality when making decisions about exercising or playing sports outside.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a scale designed to help you understand what the quality of the air around you means to your health. It’s a tool developed by health and environmental professionals to communicate the health risks posed by air pollution.

The tool is designed to help individuals and teams or organizations doing outdoor activities make decisions to protect your health and the environment such as:

• limiting your exposure to air pollution;
• adjusting your activity during episodes of increased air pollution and favouring physical activity on days when the index is lower; and
• reducing your personal contribution to air pollution (e.g. by choosing active transportation).

The index provides specific advice to the general public, as well as for people who are especially vulnerable to the effects of outdoor air pollution. Vulnerable people include small children, pregnant people, seniors, people who work outdoors, people with lung or heart conditions, and people who exercise or play sports outdoors.

If the AQHI is between four and six, be sure to reduce the intensity of your activities. Consider rescheduling if the AQHI is seven or more.

Whether you’re a sporting-event organizer, a participant on a sports team or are just getting out on your own, be sure to consult the index before and during an event, as levels may change quickly.

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