- With Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.read biographyclose window
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Dr. Edward Laskowski is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, including subspecialty certification in sports medicine, and is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. He is co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and a professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
He has been on the staff of Mayo Clinic since 1990 and specializes in sports medicine, fitness, strength training and stability training. He works with a multidisciplinary team of physical medicine, rehabilitation and orthopedic specialists, physical therapists, and sports psychologists.
Dr. Laskowski is an elite-level skier and an avid hiker, cyclist and climber. He approaches sports medicine from the perspective of a physician and an athlete.
In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Laskowski to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Health and Human Services for his contribution to the Council.
Dr. Laskowski was a member of the medical staff of the Olympic Polyclinic at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and has provided medical coverage for the Chicago Marathon. He serves as a consulting physician to the National Hockey League Players' Association and is a featured lecturer at the American College of Sports Medicine's Team Physician Course.
Dr. Laskowski, a Cary, Ill., native, has contributed to Mayo Clinic's CD-ROM on sports, health and fitness, a website guide to self-care, and hundreds of Mayo Clinic articles and booklets in print and online. He is a contributing editor to the "Mayo Clinic Fitness for EveryBody" book, and he has presented lectures throughout the world on health, fitness and sports medicine topics. His teaching expertise has been recognized by his election to the Teacher of the Year Hall of Fame at Mayo Clinic.
"There are many myths and misconceptions about exercise and fitness in general, and also many traditions that don't stand up to scientific scrutiny," he says. "My goal is to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on sports medicine and fitness topics in a way that you can practically incorporate into your life."
Fitness basics (5)
- Exercise and illness: Work out with a cold?
- Do toning shoes really work?
- Body fat analyzers: How accurate are they?
- see all in Fitness basics
Stretching and flexibility (1)
- What is hot yoga?
Aerobic exercise (12)
- Kids and exercise: How much activity do they need?
- Ankle weights for fitness walkers: Good idea?
- Walking poles: Good for brisk walking?
- see all in Aerobic exercise
Strength training (9)
- Isometric exercises: Good for strength training?
- Flat stomach: Can girdles tighten abdominal muscles?
- Weightlifting: Best before or after an aerobic workout?
- see all in Strength training
Sports nutrition (2)
- Energy drinks: Do they really boost energy?
- Brominated vegetable oil: Why is BVO in my drink?
Air pollution and exercise: Is outdoor exercise risky?
Does air pollution make outdoor exercise risky? What if you have asthma or another health problem?
from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
While aerobic activity is one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle, air pollution and exercise can be an unhealthy combination. This is especially true if you have asthma, diabetes, heart or lung conditions, or lower respiratory disease.
Even when you're not exercising, exposure to air pollution can cause health problems. But with the combination of air pollution and exercise, the potential health problems are increased. For one thing, during aerobic activity you typically inhale more air, and you breathe it more deeply into your lungs. And because you're likely to breathe mostly through your mouth during exercise, the air you breathe in generally bypasses your nasal passages, which normally filter airborne pollution particles.
Health problems that air pollution is associated with include:
- Damage to airways of the lungs
- Increased risk of asthma development
- Worsening of existing asthma
- Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
- Increased risk of death from lung cancer and cardiovascular disease
What's not clear with air pollution and exercise is how much exposure is a danger, or how long you have to be exposed. And because exercise has clear health benefits, don't give up on exercise entirely, unless your doctor has instructed you to. Instead, focus on ways to minimize the risks of the air pollution and exercise combination.
To limit the effects of air pollution and exercise:
- Monitor air pollution levels. Most communities have a system for air pollution alerts. Contact your local or state air pollution control agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, a local hospital or your doctor for information. Local radio and television stations and newspapers also often report on air quality.
- Time your workouts carefully. Avoid outdoor physical activity or reduce the intensity and duration of your outdoor exercise when an air quality alert has been issued. Also avoid outdoor activity when pollution levels tend to be highest, which is often midday or afternoon. Exercising during rush hour also can expose you to higher amounts of pollution.
- Avoid high-pollution areas. Pollution levels are likely to be highest within 50 feet (15 meters) of a road. Urban environments and outdoor smoking areas also have higher pollution levels. If possible, avoid these kinds of areas when exercising.
- Exercise indoors. Vary your routine with occasional indoor activities, especially on poor air quality days. Take a fitness class, check out a local gym or run laps on an indoor track.
If you have asthma, diabetes or another condition, check with your doctor about when it's safe for you to exercise.Next question
Whole body vibration: An effective workout?
- Mittleman MA. Air pollution, exercise and cardiovascular risk. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2007;357:1147.
- Sharman JE. Clinicians prescribing exercise: Is air pollution a hazard? Medical Journal of Australia. 2005;182:606.
- Campbell ME, et al. Should people be physically active outdoors on smog alert days? Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2005;96:24.
- Facts about particle pollution. American Lung Association. http://www.lungusa2.org/sota/SOTA08__PMFacts.pdf. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Holguin F, et al. Traffic, outdoor air pollution, and asthma. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America. 2008;28:577.
- Mashall JD, et al. Healthy neighborhoods: Walkability and air pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2009;117:1752.
- Air quality index. American Lung Association. http://www.lungusa.org/healthy-air/outdoor/air-quality-index.html. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Stay active and be fit! President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. http://www.fitness.gov/publications/council/stayactiveandbefit_pdf.pdf. Accessed Feb. 7, 2011.