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Health and Fitness:

Morning Workouts Advised to Dodge Smog
Air pollution endangers athletes' lungs

By Planet Staff
Thursday, May 31, 2007

If you exercise outdoors, do it in the morning before the air thickens with pollutants that can damage your lungs.

That's the advice today from the American College of Sports Medicine.

"An unfortunate aspect of today's environment is the significant amount of noxious air pollutants including ozone, carbon monoxide, fine and ultrafine particulates," ACSM says. "This problem is especially troublesome in urban settings, near major highways, and in indoor ice arenas."

Cars and trucks produce fine and ultrafine particulates. Diesel-fueled internal combustion engines produce especially high amounts of these irritants.

Fine and ultrafine particulates can be particularly harmful when people are exposed to them while exercising, since breathing hard increases the amount of particulates that lodge in the lungs.

"Ozone levels worsen in the later afternoon," said sports physician Kenneth W. Rundell of Marywood University. "Fine and ultrafine particulates can be exceedingly high in locations where there is heavy automobile and truck traffic, which generally corresponds to morning and evening rush hour."

Exposure to fine and ultrafine particulates, over as short as a three-month period, can result in decreased resting lung function at a rate that is comparable to that experienced by heavy tobacco smokers, ACSM says.

"The longer the exposure, the more likely the adverse effect," Rundell said. “Unfortunately we don't know if the damage is lasting."

Related reading:
ASCM press release
Fitness and Health news


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