During the ongoing Test series between India and Sri Lanka, something unimaginable happened. For the first time, a Cricket match was on the verge of being stopped owing to poor air quality leading to players’ discomfort.
Sunday afternoon saw players from India and Sri Lanka struggle on the field with most Sri Lankan players wearing masks to counter the bad air, while the ill-effect of pollution was apparent on the bowlers and the batsmen too, finding it difficult to breathe and coughing vigorously.
The Delhi air is not suitable for any kind of strenuous sports in the open. Max Bupa, India’s one of the leading standalone health insurance player, conducted a survey with about 60 medical practitioners including Pulmonologists and ENT experts to determine the steps that Delhiites should take to stay healthy, given the current state of air pollution in Delhi/ NCR.
As per the survey, walking emerged as the preferred form of exercise – over other forms of exercises such as jogging, running and cycling – for Delhiites in the wake of the regular poor air quality issues that continue to persist in the city. ~83% of the doctors surveyed recommended daily walks, armed with the right precautions, to help negate the ill-effects of the poor air quality outside. Sportsmen too need to consider taking precautions and training judiciously.
The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), constituted by the Central Government in compliance of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order expects the air quality to deteriorate further due to various local and international factors and this poses an imminent health hazard for Delhiites. On November 27, the level of air pollution in Delhi was marked “very unhealthy” with the average level of PM 2.5 – at 203^1 units in some parts of Delhi, down from over the 450-499 mark a few weeks back, but still over 10 times the safe limit. Considering the reduced ‘danger’, health experts have observed that individuals are approaching the outdoors with reduced caution.
However, the Max Bupa survey reveals that doctors still find the air highly harmful for health and recommend that people took up moderate walking indoors to maintain an active lifestyle while avoiding the harmful air outside. Doctors also advise various precautions such as breathing masks, choosing the right time to venture outdoors and rationing the time spent outdoors. This is especially important in the wake of anticipated worsening conditions in Delhi in the next few days.
o The survey revealed that 87% doctors feel that physical activity like walking cannot stop due to high pollution levels.
o However one needs to take adequate precautions like wearing masks as prescribed by 93% doctors stating that they help in reducing the adverse impact of pollution.
o Nearly 70% doctors feel that 30 minutes is the ideal duration for walking in the present situation.
o On a normal day, with permissible PM levels nearly 80% doctors feel that the best time to walk is early morning i.e. before 8am. Less than 10% recommend walking in the afternoon. However, given the current situation with pollution ~25% are recommending walking in the afternoon to counter poor air quality.
o Doctors advised that running and strenuous exercises that catalyzed oxygen burning in the body should be avoided in the present situation.
o External sources of nutrition are equally important. 87% doctors feel that to build Vitamin D levels, walking in the Sun is the best medium and that people should walk in the Sun, a time when the pollution is also slightly lower due to sunshine. Less than 10% recommend the use of supplements for the same.
o Talking about the nutrient consumption, 62% of the doctors surveyed said that eating foods rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Beta carotene would help nullify the adverse impact of air pollution to