I live in Northern California and there are a bunch of wild fires up here right now. The skies are a bit hazy and I can smell smoke in the air.

Should I avoid running in this weather?

  • What is the particulate rate and are there any warnings in your area?
    – JohnP
    Aug 20 '13 at 18:52

The comments section in this question, Is there any scientific info about effects of air pollution during exercise? link to some relevant information about exercise and air pollution.

According to the CDC:

Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

As @JohnP notes, the higher the level of warning or level of particles in the air, the higher the chance of irritation you may experience (sinus, throat, cough, eye, respiratory irritation). These will be exaccerbated if you have any risk factors or pre-existing conditions like heart or lung disease, asthma or allergies. To find out the air quality index in your area check here to help you decide whether or not it is safe to run.

If you do run when you smell smoke you risk respiratory irritation. When you run, you breathe faster and more deeply taking in fine particles deeper into your lungs.

During exercise, people can increase their air intake as much as 10 to 20 times over their resting level. Increased breathing rates bring more pollution deep into the lungs.

Only you can decide whether or not you should run with smoke smell and smoke haze in the air, but I personally would not.

  • I was going to say that Abe should consider running with a breathing mask on, but as you mentioned, smoke affects not just your lungs but eyes as well. Join a gym for the month and use one of the cardio machines there (spinning, treadmill - your choice). Don't want to go 1-2 weeks without exercise.
    – andrewb
    Aug 27 '13 at 23:36

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