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Running in the Summer - Polluted Air? 


            Desert Dust Storm                 Hazy, Hot, Humid City

With the long days of summer, there are more daylight hours in which to exercise.  Many people focus on running and outdoor activities.  These days, though, it may be best to stay indoors and do another type of workout instead of breathing polluted air during strenuous cardio activity.

In an email this week, I was asked about running during the summer, specifically during sand / dust storms of Iraq.  In a separate email I was also asked the same question about running near the cities of the South East Coast of the United States when the summer days are hazy, hot and humid.  Both humid and dry summer environments are not the most enjoyable places to run because if dehydration does not slow you down the fine particulate matter that can lodge in your lungs will. 

Humid Cities

In the hot and humid cities like Washington DC, Atlanta, and even worse Beijing, more pollutants are trapped in the wet air that we breathe and will lead to many health issues such as:

1 – Reducing lung capability / function

2 – Damaging the lining of the lungs

3 – Causing asthma flare ups

4 – other chronic irreparable lung diseases

Tip to avoid:  Do not run in the hottest part of the day and watch for Weather Ozone alerts in your city as the local weather channels / websites will discuss the fine particulate.  For instance, check out Weather Channel State Air Quality Tool for up to date information about your city’s air quality.

Arid Environments:

I asked an Army SF Group Surgeon attached to a USA Special Forces Group and he said, “In the desert (specifically Iraq), you do not have the humidity issues of many regions, but due to the dry air - sand, dust, chemicals, and even animal / human feces microbes can get lodged into your lungs especially if you try to run during or shortly after a wind storm in the desert.”  The same lung issues can occur as the above because the fine pollutants fly through the air and can get into your lungs and be an irritant at best.

In either environment, you should consider a TRX, weights, or PT workout for the day.  I know it is tough to skip a cardio workout when seeking a fitness goal of some sort, but consider the near and long term health goals as well.  Many complain of a persistent cough after running in a polluted area, which can last for months.  If reduced lung capability is the best you can hope for when running in pollutants and permanent lung damage / cancer is the worst, I would seriously consider opting out of the long hard run until the air clears.

Running In Desert Dust Storms / Humid Urban Area


Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at


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Published Books / DVDs
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
Maximum Fitness

The Special Operations Workout

The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
The Combat Swimmer Stroke DVD

The Pre-Habit Workout DVD
Clinic DVD for Navy SEAL PST
The FBI Special Agent Test Clinic DVD

The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:

Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
- Circuit Training 101 ebook

NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook

The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

The Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout 

The Army Air Assault School Workout

The Army Airborne Workout

Air Force PJ / CCT Workout

The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Workout

The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

New - Army PRT and CRT
Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard OCS Workout

The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout

The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts

The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

The State / Local Police Academy Workout

The Fire Fighter Workout

Seal Multi Men's Multi-Vitamin Multi-Mineral

TRX Train Like the Pros


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