News Stories

You Can't Run Away from Pollution

UPDATE: But watch out for gym germs too! - You're exercising in order to be healthy, but it can be downright dangerous to run, walk or bicycle near city streets. The exhaust and smoke can damage your health, especially since you breathe deeply while working out.

Heart specialist Ronald Crystal says that air pollution is definitely a problem for those who work out in the city. The main culprits are ozone, fine particulate matter, and carbon monoxide, which irritate the lungs and respiratory system.

In addition to fine particulates, which are emitted by the diesel engines of trucks and buses, the two most significant environmental culprits are carbon monoxide and ozone. Carbon monoxide come from automobile exhaust and has a tremendous ability to force oxygen out of our circulatory system.

Ozone, which is a large component of the smog found in cities like Los Angeles and New York, results from the interaction of sunlight and chemicals found in car exhaust. It can cause a person who is working out to have difficulty taking deep breaths. As a result, exercise becomes more stressful and difficult.

An additional problem is that long-term exposure to air pollution appears to be associated with an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, blood clots in the thigh or legs.

UPDATE: But people who work out at gyms have to be careful too: superbugs, which are everywhere these days. Researcher Jorge Parada says, "There is no doubt that MRSA and other infections can be transmitted without direct person-to-person contact. Although it's low, it is possible to catch MRSA by using shared gym equipment like free weights or exercise cycles. MRSA can survive for hours, even days on the surface of gym equipment and other inanimate objects." The solution? Wash your hands.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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