Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Exercise and Air Pollution


More is known about carbon monoxide. This colorless, odorless gas is produced by automobiles and cigarette smoking. It enters the body through the lungs, but unlike ozone, does not directly affect them. It quickly enters the bloodstream and binds to the hemoglobin in red blood cells, replacing the oxygen that is normally carried there. The displacement of oxygen then reduces the amount of oxygen available to the body.

The heart and brain are most sensitive to lowered oxygen levels. Exposure to cigarette smoke, even side stream smoke, increases carbon monoxide levels. Symptoms of exposure include headache, and increases in chest pain in people with heart disease. Levels of carbon monoxide can be measured in the blood stream. After exposure, it takes several hours for this concentration to decline and symptoms to lessen.

More research is clearly needed to answer questions about the mechanisms and effects of pollution on the human body. Known effects are real and significant, especially to athletes. Action by all of us to reduce emissions, lobby for stricter air standards, and enforcement of pollution laws is critical in lessening our exposure.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

As an athlete there are several measures you can take to minimize your exposure;

1. Exercise early in the morning, away from traffic, in windy areas.

2. Postpone exercise or exercise indoors on days when ozone exceeds .20 ppm/hour, the current standard for a Stage One ozone episode.

3. If you must compete in a smoggy environment, arrive 2-7 days earlier to adapt to the air conditions. Depending on individual tolerance, your symptoms and decreases in lung function will be less as you "adapt" to the smog.

4. Encourage coaches and race directors to change times of events to lessen exposure.

5. If you have asthma, see your physician for advice about appropriate medication to use prior to exercise to lessen symptoms and airway resistance changes caused by smog.

6. Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.

7. Be active in reducing emissions from automobiles and industrial sources. The fight for clean air begins with all of us.

8. Nasal breathing, or wearing a carbon-impregnated face mask, such as a 3M Nuisance Odor Mask, is helpful in reducing the amount of air pollution that enters the lungs.

9. If you are feeling symptoms, this indicates lung impairment and exercise should be postponed or delayed.

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About the authors: Carol L. Otis, M.D., is Chief Medical Advisor to the Sanex WTA and UCLA student health physician. Roger Goldingay is a former professional soccer player. They are married and the co-authors of The Athletic Woman's Survival Guide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

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