Welcome to 2020. Unlike previous years where the bushfires didn’t have such a direct impact on those of us living in rural towns and cities across the East Coast of Australia, we enter the year with the real risk of dangerous smoke inhalation. The smoke comes into direct conflict with one of the most common goals we set for ourselves every year: improving our fitness.
This resolution can be for a variety of reasons: wanting to look better, getting stronger, preparing for arduous work or travel or overall improvement of health and wellbeing. However, this popular new year’s resolution is a lot harder to kick off this year as many activities we once enjoyed are now impacted by the recent bushfires.
In Sydney and Canberra, we face many overcast, smoky days where nary a sunny sky can be seen. And for those living closer to the bush in parts of the country like Warragul, the smoke is now an ever-present issue for locals. The motivation to stay fit and commit to our goals has never been harder for Australians so keen on transforming themselves or maintaining their health and wellbeing.
What are the risks of being exposed to bushfire smoke?
One of the reasons the recent bushfires have been so alarming is because the smoke contains a dangerous combination of water vapour, gases which can include: carbon dioxide and monoxide as well as nitrogen oxides. The danger in this toxic vapour cocktail is that, according to research from institutions like NSW Health, inhaling this smoke can cause respiratory symptoms to emerge that are similar to that of smoking a large volume of cigarettes due to the PM2.5 particles present.
Early symptoms of smoke exposure can include: headaches, ear irritation, worsening lung conditions. They are clear indicators that your health may be at risk due to smoke exposure. It’s also important to note that for those of you who are living with chronic lung conditions, like asthma, COPD or have a heart disease, finding relief from the smoke is critical.
This means that popular past times of going to the beach, jogging, walking and hiking in the country are becoming increasingly hazardous to our health. In relation to this, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from the Australian National University urges Australians impacted by smoke to consider indoor activities to the best of their ability. Indoor activities can include: going to the gym, practising yoga, swimming in pools at large centres, or even exercising within your home. To explain the reason for this switch is, according to Doctor Kieran Kennedy, higher intensity exercise results in far greater inhalation through your mouth which causes us to consume far more dangerous particles that would normally be processed, filtered and not consumed by our noses.
How can you exercise safely in this bushfire season?
It has been widely recognised that P2 masks, like the Pro Choice P2 Anti Bushfire mask are a popular method for filtering out the harmful particles caused by the smoke. Unfortunately, they might not be very comfortable to wear for a longer period of time. Wearing these puts stress on users as they make breathing more difficult. As such, whilst we do recommend these masks for general outdoor protection, we do not advise users to wear these at all if their intention is strenuous exercise or where breathing is more likely to be laboured due to a higher output of effort.
Understandably, exercising indoors is not an option that many people enjoy, especially as we’re more accustomed to far more pristine conditions. This is why we advocate that you try to find alternatives to outdoor exercise that you find enjoyable that do not impact your health so severely. To make things more manageable at home, and if they are available to you, using fitness equipment like yoga mats, a pair of dumbbells or a device that provides greater joint movement like a pedal exerciser to stimulate your body during these very confronting times.
How to stay motivated with your fitness goals during this bushfire season?
We don’t know how long this bushfire season will last or if it will repeat itself to this degree in the future. But for those of us that can action our fitness goals for the year then we still have ways to kickstart our plans to stay as healthy and fit as possible around our current circumstances without severely impacting our wellbeing in the process.
Disclaimer: the information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Bettercaremarket uses reasonable endeavours to check the accuracy of the information provided however no we can not guarantee it is without error.
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