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Juggling and running in pollution – Is it bad?

It’s the strangest thing. When I go into certain restaurant or bars I feel out of breath. It’s as if I can’t breath deep enough. It’s like a yawn that just won’t satisfy. Most strange isjuggling in smog that it just started happening recently.

So, while out joggling the other day I thought about what might be causing it. Is it age? Is it the running? Or is it the fine Chicago air?

That got me thinking about running and pollution. Is it worse for juggling runners than regular people? Well, here’s a running article that breaks down some pollution facts. And here’s another one with the latest medical research into pollution effects on running.

Pollution and running

The articles say there are 6 major urban air pollutants including:

  1. carbon monoxide (CO)
  2. nitrogen oxides (NO(X))
  3. ozone (O(3))
  4. particulate matter (PM(10))
  5. sulphur dioxide (SO(2))
  6. volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Of these, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone pose the most serious risk to athletes. Carbon monoxide binds up your hemoglobin and makes your running less efficient. Ozone is worse though. It has been shown to actually impair lung function. Yikes!

Could it be that all my joggling is damaging my lungs? There isn’t enough research to say yes, but I know something is going on with my lungs. Perhaps you might want to avoid joggling in polluted air. Here are some tips to protect yourself from pollution.

Tips to avoid air pollution

When. If you can joggle in the morning or early evening that’s better. Pollution levels are lower at these times. And if it’s really polluted, consider taking a day off. (Unless you’re trying to keep the joggling streak alive.)

Where. Stay away from busy highways or city sidewalks on polluted days. And workout inside if it is particularly polluted that day.

How. If you run outside in polluted air, cut back on the intensity. That will reduce your exposure and risk. If you’re racing in it, reduce your warm-up time.

What. There is some indication that taking vitamins E & C are useful but the jury is still out on this one. Perhaps eating a couple of oranges would be just as good and better for you.

As an urban joggler, pollution is just a fact of life. You should think about it when you’re out on the streets. This shortness of breath that I experience every so often makes me wish I would’ve known to do it.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. My eye doctor always scolds me for wearing dirty contact lenses (even though I am diligent about cleaning them). And often after a day of running or cycling through the city, my eyes are blurry and agitated. I never had this problem when I spent time backpacking through the forest. So I think pollution is bad for the eyes too (at least for people who wear contacts).

  2. Ya know, I never thought about that but I wear contacts and my vision tends to be blurry a bit too. I don’t often clean my contacts beyond soaking them in the solution each night. Maybe pollution is bad for my eyes too. I’ll have to look into it.

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