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Home / Other Sports / When pollution level rises, focus on strength and conditioning

When pollution level rises, focus on strength and conditioning

Outdoor activity is the best, but one should be sensible and take note of the fact that it is counterproductive working out when air quality is bad

other-sports Updated: Jun 29, 2018 17:57 IST
Rajat Chauhan
Rajat Chauhan
Doing outdoor physical activities especially like walking-running helps you connect better with your own self.
Doing outdoor physical activities especially like walking-running helps you connect better with your own self.(Twitter)

Did ‘Thanos’ just snap his fingers? That was the thought that came to my mind when a few days back, at 5 pm the skies just switched off the lights completely. It was totally dark. Having watched too many Marvel and DC movies, ‘Avengers Infinity War’ being the most recent, the first thought that crossed my mind was that half of us on this third rock from an average star called the Sun would randomly disintegrate.

I’m sorry if you don’t understand what I am talking about. At least you now know what you are missing out in life.

Sometimes, fact can be stranger than fiction. Such movies make you more prepared for such strange things.

The air quality had just taken a turn from bad to worse in whole of north India. Was Thanos really at work!


As much as I want all of you to get active, more so outdoors, at times I would like you to be sensible about it too.

Yes, doing outdoor physical activities especially like walking-running helps you connect better with your own self, something we have all lost touch with because of excess technology around us.

ALSO READ | Anyone who walks can run, so start now

There are times when we need to look at alternates rather than just outdoor activities alone. Yes, nothing replaces moving around outdoors but it’s not worth it at the cost of your health.

Use the days when air quality is bad or it’s extremely hot, for focusing more on your strength and conditioning. In any case, strength training is very important for running as its the muscles that get your legs moving.


Use staircase at home and or work to go up and down to replace your walking-running workouts outdoors. There is no need to run up or down, just move quick.

In any case, regular practice should not be to use escalators and lifts. You can take a breather after every floor for 10-15 seconds and then go up another floor. Do it 3-4 times a day.


While walking and running, ankles, knees and hips are the three joints that work in sync.

Long hours of sitting for decades lead you to become stiff with hips and ankles. This leads to unnatural movement while attempting to run. Which further lead injuries and not performing as well you did when you were a child.

ALSO READ | Poor posture and stress forces us to breathe dysfunctionally

Here are two exercises that can be done easily, anywhere, anytime.


Also called Elven Raises, this exercise will get your ankles moving. This would reduce the pressure on the shins, knees, hips and lower back while running.

You simply need to stand tall on a ground and gradually raise your heels up. Hold for a second and gradually come down again. Make sure your knees stay straight. If you initially feel unstable, hold on to a table or wall. Repeat 20-25 times in one go. Do 4-5 sets throughout the day.


For good runners, hips play an important role. Squats is easier than most people think. All who sit on a chair, can squat.

Stand tall, then sit down on the chair, and as soon as your backside touches the chair, you get up again. Voila! You just did a squat. Don’t worry too much about the form to start with as form follows function and once you get used to doing squats, your form will keep getting better.

Start with doing 11-22 squats. Just keep the movement slow and don’t it with a jerk. Do 4-5 sets throughout the day. Eventually I want you to not let your knees roll in or out while you squat down.

Once you have more strength and mobility, you’ll be able move like the wind.

(Disclaimer: The author is a Sports­-Exercise Medicine doctor who is also race director of La Ultra ­The High, a 333 km race in Leh­, Ladakh, with running experience of 33 years).