Over the past few months NSW has experienced some of the highest air pollution ever seen before and as you’ve probably noticed, it has been one of the longest periods of air pollution on record for NSW. Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick have put together some information to help you understand how this can affect an individual’s health, symptoms to look out for and what you can do to stay healthy despite the smoke haze.
Who is at higher risk of being affected by bushfire smoke?
Smoke polluted air is a problem because the fine particles which make up smoke, penetrate deep into the lungs and can cause a range of health problems. The following groups of people are at a greater risk of being affected by bushfire smoke:
- People with pre-existing heart or lung conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, pulmonary disease or chronic bronchitis
- Pregnant women
- Older people
- Young children
What symptoms should I look out for?
Smoke polluted air can trigger a range of symptoms. Generally, anyone may experience symptoms such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose or coughing.
Those in high risk groups are more likely to experience symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
View of Sydney City from Edgecliff on 5/12/19 at 6pm.
What can I do to reduce my chance of being affected?
1. Pay attention to media reports and check online for updates on the air quality in your area
The ‘Real-time Air Quality Index’ gives a rating of the air quality in your area from good, to moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy and then lastly, hazardous. This can help you determine whether it is safe to be outdoors for extended periods of time.
2. Limit time spend outside
This is particularly important for children who may be less likely to worry about the impact of spending a lot of time outside in polluted air. Try to keep activities inside when the air is bad and avoid outside jobs such as mowing the lawn or activities such as walking or running when the air is polluted. On these bad days, do an inside workout or head to your gym to still get that workout in.
3. Keep medication on hand and follow the treatment plan for your condition
If you take medication, make sure to keep it on you wherever you go and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen. Symptoms can occur several days after smoke is inhaled, so it’s important to stay vigilant with treatment plans.
4. Avoid physical activity outside
When you exercise you breathe more to get more oxygen to your working muscles. Exercising outside means that you are significantly increasing your exposure to polluted air. There is lots of ways you can stay active indoors!
5. Buy a mask
A mask ‘P2’ otherwise known as ‘N95’ can help protect your lungs from smoke or ash. Basically, a thicker mask will filter out very fine particles entering your airway. You can pick up one of these masks from Bunnings, Chemist Warehouse or a number of other hardware stores.
If you are experiencing difficulties managing your symptoms and exercising with the continued smoke haze, the Accredited Exercise Physiologists at Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick are able to help you exercise safely and within your limits.
Written by Courtney Maher