The Dirty Secret of Outdoor Exercise
The Asthma Connection
Adding to the problem, athletes may be more prone to asthma than others. For example, 12 percent of high school athletes in an Annals of Allergies, Asthma & Immunology study had asthma, and one in six U.S. Olympic athletes at the 1998 Winter Games suffered. By comparison, asthma affects just one in 15 in the general population. One possible reason: Asthma can be induced by strenuous exercise.
"Asthma is an inflammatory disease, so the airways are chronically irritated," says Norman Edelman, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. "Even when asthma is under control, ozone and particle pollution can exacerbate inflammation and bring on an attack." Worse, pollutants like ozone narrow airways, magnifying the effects of any other allergens, and an asthmatic's pollution threshold is lower than that of the average adult.
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