Summer usually signals the start of “the dead zone” for gyms across the country, where Canadians use the window of incredible weather to exercise outdoors. But, in a moment in time where two Canadian cities – Montreal and Toronto – now are considered to have the worst air quality in the world, and environmental warnings are issued in provinces all across the country on a daily basis, Fitness Industry Council of Canada is making a strong recommendation:
Get your workout done inside.
“We exercise to improve our health. Why would we take additional risks when gyms are the most sensible place to go?” asks Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of Fitness Industry Council of Canada. “In addition to the air quality, we have had many heat warnings this summer. Fitness facilities offer highly ventilated, air-conditioned spaces to get your workout in.”
According to Environment Canada, you should avoid exercising outdoors when the air quality is considered high risk – which is ranked as anything over 7. In recent months, the air quality in several provinces has been deemed dangerous, with many instances of it hitting a 9 or a 10 in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. University of Toronto exercise physiology professor Ira Jacobs recently explained that the effects of forest fires greatly deplete the air quality, containing tiny polluted air particles much smaller than a grain of sand that are able to penetrate our lungs and organs. These particles pose considerable health risks, especially for those with pre-existing pulmonary or respiratory issues.
During exercise, we breathe predominantly through our mouths, which raises the risk factor. As such, experts recommend exercising safely indoors, in well-ventilated facilities.
But what if you are healthy and fit? The benefits of exercise (or not exercising) outweigh the risks of air pollution. According to a statement from the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and other groups, published in the British Medical Journal, “the health benefits of physical activity generally outweigh the risks of air pollution in healthy individuals.”
Hardy reiterates that the gym is the place to be this hot, smoky summer: “The gym is the safest place to exercise when air quality is as poor as it has been, and according to reports will continue to be due to the forest fires across our country. We are in the business of health, and the health of Canadians is our priority.”
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.