A Healthier U

Should I be exercising when the air quality is bad?

According to the experts, unless your doctor has specifically told you not to exercise, keep up with your exercise routine. Based on a review of the current medical literature, for otherwise healthy people, the benefits of physical activity outweighs the risks of exposure to air pollution, even on days with higher air pollution levels. Check out what the experts have to say at deq.utah.gov.

Air pollution has been associated with a variety of health problems: damage to airways in the lungs, increased risk of the development of asthma, exacerbation of asthma and other lung conditions, increased risk of heart attack and strokes and increased risk of death from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Just how much exposure or how long you need to be exposed to poor air quality to increase your risk is not currently known.

If you have a medical condition or are concerned, you can limit the negative effects of exercising in bad air by:

  • Monitoring air pollution levels here
  • Timing your outdoor workouts to correspond to the time of day when the air quality is best
  • Avoiding high pollution areas, like walking or running close to a busy street or highway
  • Exercise indoors

This week’s resource can help you to monitor air pollution and estimate how much you should exercise outdoors. Click here to check out this app and let us know what you think.


As always, email your questions or suggestions to wellness@utah.edu.