We’re often told that exercise is important for keeping our bodies healthy. But what if the air we breathe when we’re working out is unsafe? For those who do most of their exercise in public gyms, the air may be worse than you think.
During exercise, especially aerobic exercise, we tend to inhale more air through our mouths as we breathe deeply through our lungs. When this occurs, outside air bypasses our nasal passageway, which is designed to trap some contaminants, and instead is sent right through to our respiratory system. This means air containing pollutants or other particulate matter may be entering our bodies unfiltered, leading to symptoms such as coughing.
To better understand air quality in gyms, researchers in Portugal placed air quality monitors in 11 gyms for several hours. What they found was surprising. In the gyms monitored, they discovered concentrations of dust, formaldehyde and carbon dioxide in levels above most accepted standards for indoor air quality. Even more disturbing were results during aerobic classes, where many people work out in small, cramped studios. During these classes, contaminant levels were especially high, with participants breathing out carbon dioxide and stirring airborne dust and other particles with each movement. Although carbon dioxide is not toxic to people, it has been linked to fatigue and mental fogginess, which are not conducive to any kind of gym routine.
Unfortunately, exercising outdoors is not always a better alternative, because of issues like pollution from vehicles, or during summer months, the harmful affects of ozone. For those who prefer to exercise outside, many experts recommend checking your region’s air quality status before heading out for a run.
While it may be hard to control the air quality outside, or at your favorite gym, you can take control of the air in your home with a HEPA air purifier. To learn more, head over to our products page and find out how you can breathe easier at home, even while you’re burning serious calories on the treadmill! And if you manage or own a gym, consider looking into air quality solutions for the health of your clients.