Smoke Pollution and Exercise

Should You Paddle When There’s Smoke Haze?

In the midst of summer and the bush-fire season, parts of Australia are already experiencing smoke pollution. With more hot weather predicted for the months ahead, it’s important to understand and be regularly checking when it’s safe to exercise outdoors and when it’s best to stay inside.


The health impact of bushfire smoke can vary based on an individual’s current health status and previous medical conditions. Those most likely to feel the effects of bushfire smoke include people aged over 65, children 14 years and younger, pregnant women and paddlers affected by asthma or existing heart or lung conditions.

When exercising, our respiratory rate & volume increases, exposing our airways to pollutants. Paddlers training at a high-performance level can increase the total amount of air passing through the airways more than 10 times through moderate exercise and more than 20 times when exercising vigorously. In a recent article released by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) of best practices when exercising in smoke pollution; our exposure to pollutants is significantly increased during a one-hour high-intensity training session even in moderately reduced air quality.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) evaluates the current level of air quality with general advice on implications for individuals. The below AQI table has been put together by public health authorities to help quantify air quality by the following factors:

  • Air pollution levels at your nearest monitoring site or region
  • The common contributing pollutants
  • The overall health risk associated with a given rating


Each state and territory has live online updates on current, local AQI levels. So before going for a paddle this summer, make sure you check your local Air Quality Index (AQI) .

Useful websites and apps – Melbourne Air Pollution Real- tiem Air Quality Index,

                                        EPA Air Watch

                                        VIC Emergency