Smogging the Competition: Polluted Air and Athletes

The Chinese government is busy trying to improve Beijing's air quality before the Games by implementing various industrial and civic measures, including closing factories and limiting automobile use. The hope is that these actions will reduce levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and small particulate matter. Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen to the blood and, ultimately, the working muscles. Additionally, the other components can aggravate and perhaps cause exercise-induced asthma.

Will the measures significantly reduce the pollution? Will athletes suffer short-term decreases in performance? Will any athletes suffer long-term effects?

We won't know until the Beijing Games begin, and perhaps for years after they end.


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Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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