Why You Should Use Google Maps’ New Air Quality Layer

BBreathing is the fuel that our lungs and heart (aka cardiorespiratory system) use to power our muscles when we exercise, so we want to make sure the fuel is not not dirty when we swallow it during a workout. This is especially true because when we exercise, we breathe in five or six times more oxygen than when we’re resting, says Russell Buhr, MD, PhD, a pulmonologist at UCLA Health.

So if there’s a day with a high level of pollution due to a number of possible factors like wildfires or smog-trapping heat, exercising outside means the amount of pollution and irritants you inhale increases by the same amount, according to Dr. Bouhr. He adds that this is more relevant to people with pre-existing conditions that affect the lungs, such as asthma.

However, air pollution levels are rising and Dr Buhr says that when you hear of a wildfire or a heavy pollution day, it’s definitely worth checking the air quality in outdoors to see if you might be better served by training indoors. Fortunately, Google recently made checking super easy by releasing a new air quality layer in its app.

The new feature lets you see the Air Quality Index score, something the EPA and other organizations measure locally across the country, without needing to Google “AQI near me. “.

Photo: Google

User feedback helped drive this latest update to the app, according to Hema Budaraju, senior product manager for social impact health and search at Google. “Many of our users have told us that when researching places to go and things to do, they would also like to have a clearer picture of the weather and air quality before deciding to go somewhere. “, she says. “You can imagine that if you are planning a day outdoors and you find that the forecast or the air quality will be poor, then you can use Google search and maps to find another activity.”

For similar reasons, Google has also added a wildfire layer to the maps that will show you where wildfires are in your area, which can be another indication to avoid exercising outdoors. .

To view these layers, update Google Maps to the latest version of the app. Then click on the layers button in the upper right corner and tap on the layer you want to see. No Google search required! Air quality is broken down into easy-to-understand ratings like “good,” “moderate,” and “poor.”

In general, air quality is not something you can see. “Just because the sky looks pretty clear, the air quality can still be pretty bad,” says Dr Buhr. So your safest bet is to check the AQI of where you plan to train. Even if you don’t have any underlying lung disease it can’t hurt and honestly it could be a good habit to get into as 90% of the world’s population lives in poor air quality and pollution airflow continues to be a major health concern among global health organizations.

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