Tips to how to be fit in this polluted season
Health and pollution are strange companions. When the level of man-made pollutants rise in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil we take produce from, our health takes a sabbatical, leaving us prone to medical conditions and even fatalities. However, if you still need quantification, it’s available, courtesy the World Health Organization. Pollution, in all forms, affects well over 1 billion people worldwide, taking a toll of over 10 million lives in India alone.
The threat looms large with the onset of winters. As the temperature dips, the pollutants reach the ground level, engulfing urban areas with high emission rates in thick smog that refuses to wane. With winters fast approaching, managing health amidst growing pollution levels becomes imperative or else the risk of losing life’s biggest blessing runs high. Thankfully, there are practical strategies to beat the pollution and its time for you to get intimate with them.
- Kapalbhati: Kapalbhati is essentially a purification technique for your mind, body, and spirit. It’s a perfect response to air pollution, and easy to implement as well – just take a yogic posture, breathe in, push your abdomen and exhale. Repeat the process for at least 15 minutes and experience health gains like strengthened immunity, better lung capacity, enhanced blood circulation and healthier metabolism, and more.
- Anulom Vilom: This pollution season, breathe your way to better physical and mental health with Anulom Vilom pranayama. Start by closing a nostril by placing a finger on it and breathing slowly from the other. Hold the breath and shift your finger to the other nostril and exhale. If getting rid of stress, anxiety, depression, arthritis, cardiac issues and blood pressure is your idea of fitness, Anulom Vilom is for you.
- Bahiya Pranayama: Although a bit complicated of all pranayamas, Bahiya pranayama is a panacea for many physical and mental conditions. The pranayama goes underway when you inhale deeply, and moves forward with you releasing your breath in three phases of equal or unequal duration. The initial phase involves contraction of abdominal muscles, while you need to press your chin hard against the collarbone and give an upward thrust to the perineum muscle in second and third phase respectively.
- Other Options: Pranayamas, including Suryabhedi and Mahaprana Dhwani, are also proven remedies for pollution-related disorders specific to the lungs, heart and liver. Besides yoga, prefer indoor sports, such as swimming, badminton, trampoline, tennis, basketball, and more to stay active and keep side-effects of pollution at bay.
Most of the foods are contaminated with hazardous chemicals that can impair health irreparably. While you cannot skip food, you can definitely take some preventive measures to steer clear of pollutants and their effects. Your first step to contamination-free eating is hygiene. Habits, like keeping your kitchen, more specifically worktops and dishcloths, spick and span, washing hands when preparing food, and washing vegetables and fruits thoroughly, will go a long way in restricting the intrusion of chemicals into your system. Also, consider including some herbs into your diet to bridge the nutrition gap and counter the vagaries of pollution.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is a rich source of Curcumin, an active compound with anti-oxidizing properties. Simply put, it boosts your immunity and flushes toxins out of your system. Although most of the tradition favorites contain turmeric, mixing few grams of it with ghee and consuming the mixture with water will offer better health outcomes.
- Tulsi: Tulsi is one plant with multiple benefits. The plant absorbs toxins, keeping the air in your living space purified, while its juice frees the respiratory tract of toxins.
- Neem: Neem is a hedge against the harm caused by pollutants. Just endure its atrocious taste, and chew/drink your way to a better immunity, stress relief and glowing skin.
- Pippali: If air pollution has impacted your lungs and immunity, Pippali is the way to go. Simply mix it in a teaspoon of honey and take the mix regularly for a safe recovery.
Go out but with precaution
- Apps: There are mobile applications for predicting air quality and they call them predictive outdoor pollution apps. An initiative of the Indian government, SAFAR-Air, is one among the many such apps out there offering air forecasting for the next 24 hours in Delhi. Capitalize on these apps to decide when, where and how to go out.
- Wearable technology: Thanks to technology yet again, we have easy access to pollution sensors that you can wear for fashion and function. These cool gadgets give a fair idea of pollution levels when outdoors, helping you skip areas with high emission rates. Though this technology is yet to evolve, it does prevent you from inhaling pollutants.
- Respirators: Respirators are making their way to the wardrobe of health freaks, and fashion shows as well. These personal devices filter and purify the air you breathe, safeguarding your respiratory system while you shop, jog, walk, commute or enjoy a stroll. However, respirators should not be mistaken for a cloth mask, a common sight in urban centres, which, at the best can only keep you safe from dust.
- Miscellaneous: Avoid choosing busy roads for jogging, strolling or cycling, and prefer not to follow a heavy vehicle since their emission levels are high. Refrain from visiting roads lined with skyscrapers, as pollutants remain close to the ground level in such places.