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Avoid respiratory problems when exercising in pollution

Avoid respiratory problems when exercising in pollution

As smog descended over our cities recently we were warned – stay inside if you suffer from breathing difficulties, and avoid the pollution as best you can.

With sand blowing in from the Sahara, this is not a daily occurrence for city dwellers, but what if you are hampered daily by respiratory illnesses such as asthma? Is there a best way to exercise?

Firstly, before any exercise you need to check with your GP that what you are doing is safe.

Exercise is recommended for everyone, regardless of breathing problems – but the levels and the way in which you do it have to be rethought. 


It might be that a team sport suits you best as you don’t have to run around continuously, but rather you can have periods of inactivity where you regain your breath. Hockey, football, rugby and netball are all intensive sports but you are not expected to have the ball for the whole match!


Like the warning over air quality, consider the atmosphere you are working out in. A gym is a constant atmosphere and you have trained first aiders on standby, therefore it’s a good choice for an asthmatic. Providing you have your medication and you are taking it correctly, there’s no reason you can’t go for a good workout.

Swimming is another good choice as the warm, moist air is kinder to our lungs. One thing you may want to steer of is running on a cold, frosty day as the air temperature can kick off an attack in some asthmatics.


The important thing is not to push yourself to tipping point. Work within your comfort zone and if you are pushing yourself ensure you have the support network in place to do so.

Exercise will make you stronger, so even if you have a respiratory problem, exercise can do you a real favour. To be sure of the air quality, head to the gym.