Rising pollution levels drive Singaporeans into gyms

More people in Singapore are reported to be opting for the gym instead of exercising outdoors as pollution in the area reached unhealthy levels on October 21.

The Pollution Standard Index reached a dangerous high of 108 on Thursday, October 21, while the reading dropped to 79 on Friday, October 22. The highest PSI reading on record in Singapore is a whopping 226 in September 1997. PSI provides a uniform system of measuring pollution levels for major air pollutants.

Channel News Asia, a news agency in Asia, reported October 22 that gyms are seeing an influx of patrons this week, with international fitness chain Fitness First recording a three percent rise in customers in the past two days.

Singapore and Malaysia urged Indonesia on Friday, October 22, to stop illegal fires set by Indonesian farmers. The smoke from the fires has drifted across the southern Malay peninsula and chocked the region with a polluted haze. Doctors are recommending residents limit outdoor exercise, and some Singaporeans are reported to be sporting face masks for protection.

During aerobic activity, even low intensity activities, a person breathes as much as 10 times more air than at rest. Plus the breaths are deeper, and since one typically breathes mostly through the mouth during exercise, the air bypasses filtering nasal passages. Year-round exposure to air pollution or particulate matter has been linked to a host of health issues ranging from asthma and diabetes to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"Usually when you exercise, your lung function improves," said researcher George Thurston, ScD, a professor of environmental health science at NYU School of Medicine in New York City in an interview with US-based Fitness magazine. But as pollution levels rise, the benefit shrinks to the point where there was no improvement in lung capacity." In short, he said, it is too risky to exercise outdoors on pollution-clogged days.

Research on the cardiovascular implications of exercising outdoors: http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/10/637.2.full

For tips and advice on exercising outdoors in polluted areas: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/tips/safety/the-dirty-secret-of-outdoor-exercise/

To learn more about air pollution in your area: http://www.cleanairworld.org/


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