Many of us prefer to exercise in the aircon room or gym where we can avoid the sun, heat and humidity. In other words, we are pampered and just wish to exercise in comfort. Is it true that exercising indoor with the aircon switched on is better than exercising outdoor in terms of air quality?
The answer is “Yes” and “No”. “Yes” during haze season when the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is extremely high. “Yes” to people who have heat related illnesses or injuries and are prone to heat related illnesses. “No” when the PSI is in the very healthy range and when the person is healthy and does not have heat related illnesses. Why “No”?
Aircon in Residential Apartments
The air quality indoor can sometimes be inferior to that of outdoor when the PSI is in the healthy range. Indoor air quality depends on room cleanliness and maintenance as well as the existence of a ventilator. Aircon fixed in our residential apartment generally comes without a ventilator. This means the cold air in the aircon room is breathed in again and again by you. The unintentional leaks and gaps between walls and doors may provide some fresh outdoor air but it is not sufficient for exercising. Maybe a few hours and a few times a week exercising in your aircon room is fine but we would suggest that you exercise outdoor when the air quality is good because there is little ventilation in the aircon room while you are inhaling and exhaling vigorously.
Aircon in Commercial Building
Is there ventilator installed in the aircon room or gym of a commercial building in Singapore? Is it advisable for you to exercise in such indoor environment? Commercial building in Singapore should have ventilator installed under the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Guidelines. The indoor air quality with ventilator should be better than buildings without a ventilator. However, over long run, the maintenance of the ventilator and aircon plays a critical role in sustaining the good air quality indoor. Though there are BCA guidelines on cleaning the ventilator and aircon for such commercial buildings so that the indoor air is maintained at acceptable level, there is still a question of whether the indoor air quality is as good as the outdoor air for exercising.
Carbon Dioxide in Gym
Some articles indicate that the level of carbon dioxide and airborne dust in some gyms may be high especially during peak hours because of frequency, duration and intensity of inhalation and exhalation as well as other physical movements during exercises. Though short and infrequent exposure to high level of carbon dioxide should not harm our body, long term and constant exposure to high level of carbon dioxide may have adverse effects on our body. Can air purifiers help to improve the air quality?
In conclusion, if you have a choice and when the outdoor air quality is good (i.e. very healthy PSI), it may be better to exercise outdoor (instead of indoor). For those with heat related illnesses, perhaps you should exercise outdoor before the sun rise or after the sun set to avoid the heat. If you need to exercise during hazy condition, make sure that the aircon is properly maintained with periodic aircon steam cleaning and chemical wash as well as aircon overhaul.