Smoke-filled air could affect outdoor exercise


MISSOULA, Mont. - Getting some outdoor air is popular in Montana, but come late summer, it may not be the kind of heavy breathing you had in mind. "If you try to exercise outside in the smokey season, it's more likely to cause a lot of lung irritation, wheezing," family physician Dr. Elizabeth Paddock tells NBC Montana. We asked Paddock and Meg Brooker, of the Runner's Edge and the running club called Run Wild Missoula, if it's OK to exercise in the smoke. Both say to first go by what you feel. "Usually what we tell people that if it doesn't feel like it affects you, then go for it," explains Brooker. "If you are breathing and you can feel that burning feeling, it's probably worth going inside that day," adds Paddock. The county heath department posts advisories if you are unsure. Brooker says, "A lot of people watch the air quality levels. If it's really bad, they ask that you stay inside." If you are determined to get outside, both our experts suggest morning hours. "The best time to get out and run is in the morning. It's cooler and typically, the smoke isn't as bad," says Brooker. Consider lightening up on distance and intensity. According to Paddock, "You could potentially just do a shorter run, knowing that you are breathing in more pollution in your lungs, so decreasing the amount and how hard you are going." Brooker says, "Just slow down a little bit, enjoy it." Certain locations also could provide pockets of fresher air. "Hitting a trail, usually, is helpful too. Being by water seems to be a little bit better too," Brooker tells NBC Montana. If the air quality is posted as dangerous, or you are having difficulty, exercising inside is advised. However, both these experts warn not to use smoke as an excuse to skip your workouts, because fire season could be a long one.