Pollution is a demon comes along what humans say as development. whether it's farm fire burning in diffrent states of northern India, or heavy vehicular traffic on roads all day long, winters doesn't feel same as our childhood.
In recent years people look more to AQI levels than temperatures on their smart phones. Definitely breathing poisonous air is harming our bodies in urban as well as rural areas now.
Public Health & Fitness sector has taken a huge leap post covid as everyone is more concerned about being active is the only way to keep immunity high...
Buy what to do when AQI levels are high?
So the answer is it depends… if you are fairly healthy individual with no medical concerns running or cycling in moderated AQI levels 100-200 is still ok. When AQI levels touch 300 + most of the people start experiencing itchiness in eyes, scratchy throat and flu like symptoms. One should avoid high intensity & longer duration workouts outdoors or even indoors. There is marginal difference when it comes to working out indoors or outdoors in greener areas( avoid roads with heavy traffic movements) .
The timing of workout definitely plays a huge roll as when the sun is up around 11-12 Noon the heavy smog is lifted up and one can go outdoors for a walk / jog / bike. But the concern here is how many of us are available at this time for a workout. So my take is reduce the frequency / intensity / time of activity if AQI is above 300.
Else healthy individuals can workout anytime if the day if they are preparing for a race / event. Others can take few days off and enjoy workouts in controlled environments at gym / home and get back to outdoor training when air gets little better.
Are you continuing your outdoor classes and running groups?
Yes we try to run less / work less on heavy smog days. If we are preparing for a race much longer we try to change the run distances as per aqi level forecast.
What's the best way of staying active with such high pollution?
Reduce the intensity/ frequency/ time of the workout.
What should one do and avoid so that pollution doesn't harm fitness enthusiasts?
Nasal Breathing most of the time, low intensity work, workout in controlled environments whenever possible. Eat a balanced antioxidant rich diet with lots of green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
One Can use N95 Masks for outdoor activities but must stay in a lower heart rate zones with mask on. High Intensity workouts need a lot of air which will be added challenge with masks on.
Wearing goggles while doing outdoor workout is important as heavy pollution can also cause irritation in eyes.