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Outdoor Exercise Could Be Unhealthy

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If you're planning on exercising outdoors in the next few days, get an early start and take it easy. Better yet, hit the gym.

Summer smog season is here, and one of the challenges people face is staying active while minimizing exposure to unhealthy air, said Dr. Howard Frumkin of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

The best time to exercise outdoors is before 8 a.m. Smog levels peak from 3 to 7 p.m.

Smog irritates the throat and lungs, causing inflammation and making it hard to breathe. You may experience a sore throat, cough, or wheezing, and your chest may burn or feel tight. Physical activity exacerbates the problem. When you breathe harder and faster, smog particles are carried deeper into your lungs, where they cause the most damage.

Some people are more sensitive to smog than others, such as those with respiratory diseases, children and elderly people. But regardless of health or fitness level, health officials agree that everyone should decrease the duration and intensity of their outdoor activities during a code red smog alert. When air quality is poor, even moderate exertion, like climbing stairs or gardening, can make you feel tired or short of breath.

Some people don't experience any of those symptoms, or the symptoms decrease as they become acclimated to the smog. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is some concern that breathing bad air day after day could permanently injure the lungs. On > Go to and click on daily smog report. For more information, go to

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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