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“Smog Days”: When Working Out Outdoors Doesn’t Work

Ray_from_LA/Flickr.

Now that the weather is more pleasant, it’s tempting to think about running and walking outside as a form of exercise. And while you probably already know all the basics about exercising outdoors (wear sunscreen, don’t play your music too loud, always check for oncoming vehicles), one thing you might have forgotten is the importance of air quality.

As summer wears on, Toronto will have more and more “smog days.” These are days when the air quality health index warns people to stay inside. Although the number of smog days in Ontario was on the decline last summer, we don’t know what this summer will bring. The good news is that improved industry standards for pollution and emissions have had a positive impact on air quality all over the province. The bad news is that smog days can still happen, and that running alongside a major highway or traffic interchange change still get more pollutants and particulate matter in your lungs than you actually want. Over the long term, this can have an adverse effect on both your health and your ability to perform aerobic exercise. After all, how can you draw in those big lungfuls of air to do the hard work of training your body, when your airways themselves are inflamed and irritated?

So on smog days, do yourself a favour and come to the gym! We have a variety of specialty programs and classes that can keep you moving and motivated — especially if you hate the treadmill.

Running and walking outside can be fun. And obviously, the experience you have outdoors is different from the one you have in our gyms. But we work hard to create the best experiences possible in our gyms — they’re great places to make friends, build strength, and learn new skills. While we can’t promise you birdsong, we can promise you a workout without rain, honking cars, wolf whistles, or smog.