Is It Safe to Go for a Run in Wildfire Smoke?

Wednesday is Global Running Day, but experts advise against outdoor exercise in areas affected by smoke from the wildfires in Canada. The air quality in these areas is poor and can cause health problems.

Is It Safe to Go for a Run in Wildfire Smoke?

It's Global Running Day. You shouldn't run today.

New York Road Runners canceled its Global Running Day events Wednesday, as smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted across large areas of the United States. If you are in NYC or any other affected area, read and follow the health advisory for your city regarding air quality on June 7 and consider running a different day.

On Tuesday, the running club had already urged people not to go for a run outside, and to log their outdoor miles after the skies had cleared. This is especially true for people who suffer from chronic respiratory conditions like asthma.

The European Heart Journal published a study in 2021 that concluded the same thing, stating that a higher level of exercise in an environment with high levels of pollution'may negatively affect cardiovascular health'.

California's Air Resources Board recommends that people avoid exercising outside in smoky weather conditions. The amount of time outside, the level of exercise, the level of pollution and any existing health conditions will determine the health effects.

Smoke from wildfires contains a mixture of particles. Some particles, like dust and smoke, are large enough to be visible with the naked eyes. Some are tiny, measuring between one-fifth and one-thirtth the width of a human hair. These tiny particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream of a person. Smoky conditions can also make it difficult for runners to see.

People tend to breathe more through their mouths than their noses during exercise. According to the American Lung Association, the mouth, unlike the nose, does not have a natural filter system for pollutants. This means that more pollutants are able to enter the body. The ultrafine particles don't get exhaled when exercising.

'If you're a New Yorker with heart or breathing issues, be careful when you're outdoors,' New York City's mayor's office advised. 'Try to limit outdoor activities today to the absolute necessities.'

According to the IQAir World Air Quality Index, New York briefly had the lowest air quality of any major city in the entire world on Tuesday.

The Australian Sports Commission stated that if the conditions persist, the cumulative effects of several days worth of air pollution could lower an athlete's threshold to symptoms.