exercising

What Does Air Quality Mean for Your Exercise Routine?

By Alison Davis

We read or hear about it every day: exercise plays a critical role in keeping us healthy. So, what do you do when you want to exercise outside, but the air quality forecast is Code Orange – or higher? Does that mean you shouldn’t exert yourself outdoors?

Unless you’re looking for a reason to head for the couch, there’s good news. On most days, you can exercise outside – even if air quality isn’t the best. By using the Air Quality Index (AQI) to make simple changes to your workout plan, you can still get physical activity outdoors, while reducing the amount of pollution you take into your lungs.

If checking the AQI isn’t part of your daily routine, this is the perfect time to start. Air Quality Awareness Week is April 27 through May 1.

Join us at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 30 for a Twitter chat about air quality and physical activity. EPA’s experts will be joined by experts from CDC, the National Weather Service and the National Park Service to answer your questions about how using the AQI can help you get the exercise you need to stay healthy when air quality is poor. Join the conversation: follow the #AirQualityChat hashtag @EPAlive, @CDCenvironment, @NWS, and @NPSair. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can post your questions in the comments below and follow the #AirQualityChat hashtag during the chat. We look forward to talking with you!

About the author: Alison Davis is a Sr. Advisor for Public Affairs in EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Biker Bob

By Amy Miller

Remember Bobby? He’s my brother who’s quietly doing his part to make the planet a little bit cleaner.

One of his passions is biking. He bikes to work, synagogue, the grocery store and sometimes to see his nephew play baseball. He’s been biking since he was in high school in NYC (a long time ago). He didn’t do it for exercise or to keep the earth clean any more than our father did.

Robert Myles Miller Sr., who wouldn’t be caught dead exercising and preferred Madison Avenue to meadows, biked before it was trendy. It got him to 57th and 5th in a quarter the time it took the bus.

Bobby can leave home 15 minutes before a Red Sox game and park next to Fenway – for free. He can speed through Coolidge Corner – at rush hour. And he pays $100 a year for vehicle maintenance, less than the cost of three tanks of gas.

True, Bobby looks kind of silly in his full biking regalia. But that’s because he’s not stupid. He has a rearview mirror on his helmet, flashing lights on his back fender and a neon vest over his jacket.

I estimate Bobby burns off a few hundred calories a day riding the six miles roundtrip between his home and his teaching job at the Heath School. That’s at least a chunky chocolate cookie or two. According to EPA’s “calculate your impact” website, he’s also preventing more than 300 pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year.

So much does Bob believe, he started a blog encouraging others. “Biking In Brookline” contains some bike banter but mostly offers nuggets in the form of links and suggested reading.

After he saw a guy from Taza Chocolate in Somerville packing up goods on the back of a bike at a farmers market, Bob posted a picture of the tractor the guy used to tote everything from a tent to a table.

Bobby also suggested the website: Commute by Bike. And he noted newbies can get tips from. He was wowed by a New York Times article about a superhighway for bicycles in Copenhagen. The path has pumps along the route, and traffic lights timed for bicycle commuting. For those moved by health incentives, Bob suggests reading: “Bicycle Your Way to Better Brain Health”

As he said to fellow townspeople at the end of his blog intro, “why wouldn’t you want to bicycle as a means to get around?”

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.