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The Dirty Secret of Outdoor Exercise

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Pollution Everywhere

If you're a swimmer, you're not off the hook: Oceans, lakes, and rivers can contain overflows of untreated sewage. Play golf? Look out for fertilizers and pesticides on the course. But no matter what your sport, the very air you breathe is cause for concern. Ozone pollution (basically smog), particulate matter (microscopic particles from factories and construction sites), sulfur dioxide (a by-product of industrial facilities and some power plants), and carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide (gases from vehicle emissions, generators, lawn mowers, and so on) can cause respiratory difficulties. "Each one affects the body differently, but they all can hinder your workout," says Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit research institute in Boston that examines how pollution affects health. Ozone, for example, can irritate the throat and respiratory tract and inflame the lining of the lungs. Particulate matter and carbon monoxide have been associated with hardening of the arteries.

Unlike golf courses or polluted lakes, air is impossible to avoid. The most recent data show that six in 10 Americans -- 186 million people -- live in places where the air poses a health threat, according to the American Lung Association (ALA). Despite a burgeoning green movement and progress in cutting pollutants, nearly every major metropolitan area is burdened with significant air pollution: Of the 25 cities with the worst ozone pollution, 16 recorded higher ozone levels in the ALA's 2009 report compared with the year before. This plus the steady decrease in gym membership (down approximately 21 percent in 2009, according to the American Council on Exercise) and an increase in people turning to outdoor activities (Road Runners Club of America saw 10 to 30 percent growth in race participation from 2008 to 2009, for instance) has some experts worried about the well-being of outdoor exercisers.

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milasew wrote:

Are they trying to help gyms membership rates go up with this article? I'm sure there are health dangers in there too, with all the chlorine, cleaning chemicals, and off-gassing!

4/14/2013 02:03:05 PM Report Abuse
hailzuko1 wrote:

I always perferred to get my cardio through my exercise DVD's anyway. :/

4/27/2012 02:55:12 AM Report Abuse
mbuencon wrote:

I agree with Shawn...whats the alternative? Should I go out and purchase a teadmill?

4/26/2012 02:16:33 PM Report Abuse
Shawn.Helley wrote:

What a load of rubbish, yes running in a busy street is probably not the best for you, but Im sure that running and walking in parks ect is doing more good to you than harm, if you listened to every story like this you would end up not being able to do anything as it "might be bad for you"

4/26/2012 11:25:30 AM Report Abuse

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