Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | 15:25 WIB

Exercise and air pollution


Jakarta, IO – Sports have various benefits for the human body. No matter what type of movement you perform, strong evidence over centuries shows that it will deliver both physical and mental health benefits. According to dr. Anitta Florence Stans Paulus, Sp.KFR-KR(K) in the “Healthy and Exciting: Fighting Illness by Exercising” talk show on Tuesday (5/9/2023), sports is divided into competitive sports performed by professional athletes, and sports done purely for health and recreation. 

“Exercising has multiple benefits, including preventing acute diseases and controlling the progress of chronic illnesses, so that they do not worsen, minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of cancer, improving the quality of sleep, controlling the rate of aging on a cellular level, strengthening bone growth, maintaining mental health (including preventing depression) because it is effective in reducing stress. After all, it is mostly those who are addicted to a sedentary lifestyle who are prone to these illnesses,” dr. Anitta said. 

She went on to remind listeners that an investment in health should be made from when one is young, among others by routine exercising. “There are no age limits. Basically, everyone can engage in exercises or sports according to their individual capacities. The only people who are prohibited from exercising are those who suffer from counter-indications, such as having a blood pressure level of 180 mmHg or higher, of if they suffer an inflammation of their heart muscles. However, as long as the person is able to exercise, they should do so, because of the multiple benefits it provides – and after consulting with a doctor and performing such exercises under a doctor’s supervision.” 

At a Lowered Pace 

However, during this period of massive air pollution, is exercising outdoors safe? This is an undeniable concern. After all, unhealthy air quality greatly contributes to respiratory-related diseases in the Jabodetabek area, including acute upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and pneumonia. 

“Many people are asking, ‘Is it still healthy, exercising when pollution levels are high?’ People want to become healthy by exercising, but it is rather tricky under the current circumstances. Don’t pause your exercise routine, because if you stop doing cardio exercises for two weeks, for example, you will lose up to 10% of your fitness. If you stop even longer, you might even lose the muscles you have built, and your strengthened heart muscles will weaken. Unfortunately, if you breathe in pollutants, it will cause systemic impact not just to the lungs, but to all of the body’s organs, including the heart,” warns dr. Andhika Respati, Sp.KO, sports medical specialist, in the “Health Tips for Exercising during Pollution” talk show on Monday (4/9/2023). 

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He went on to share a number of tips for exercising, during a period of severe air pollution: “Keep exercising at home. Make the necessary adjustment so that your body adapts. Perform your cardio, strengthening, flexibility exercises to make sure that your entire body is trained and fit. Cardio exercises include things like treadmill or skipping exercises; strengthening exercises include squatting or planking; while flexibility exercises include stretching the legs, neck, arms. Most importantly, to be sustainable, one must first start looking at exercising as a fun habit. This will help to extinguish your reluctance to exercise,” dr. Andhika said. 

Finally, as studies show that pollutant levels tend to worsen in the afternoon, dr. Andhika suggests that we all perform our physical exercises in the morning – at a slower pace. “Even if you have to exercise outside, do it in an area where fewer vehicles pass by. Make sure that you wear a filter mask when exercising, preferably a surgical mask with pores, so that your body can still exhale CO2. However, the effort would still be much harder under the circumstances. The secret is to lower the pace – if you are used to jogging at pace 6 or a speed of 10 km per hour, lower it to 8 km per hour, for example.” (est)


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