Protect Your Lungs From Wildfire Smoke

Protecting Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke When Living with Chronic Lung Disease

For individuals living with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or pulmonary fibrosis, the threat of wildfire smoke can be especially concerning. Wildfire smoke contains harmful particles and chemicals that can exacerbate existing respiratory conditions and pose serious health risks. However, with careful planning and proactive measures, it is possible to protect your lungs and minimize the impact of wildfire smoke on your health.

Understand the Risks

Before we dive into protective measures, it’s essential to understand the specific risks wildfire smoke poses to individuals with chronic lung diseases. The tiny particles and toxic gases found in smoke can lead to:

  1. Increased Inflammation: Smoke can trigger inflammation in the airways, making it harder to breathe.

  2. Exacerbation of Symptoms: Individuals with chronic lung diseases may experience worsened symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

  3. Respiratory Infections: Smoke weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off infections, potentially leading to respiratory infections like bronchitis or pneumonia.

Protecting Your Lungs from Wildfire Smoke

  1. Monitor Air Quality: Stay informed about local air quality by checking real-time air quality indices and wildfire updates. Several websites and apps provide this information. When air quality is poor, limit outdoor activities.

  2. Create a Clean Indoor Environment:

    • Seal Leaks: Ensure your home is well-sealed to prevent smoke from entering.
    • Use Air Purifiers: Invest in HEPA air purifiers for your home. Make sure to run them in the rooms you spend the most time in.
    • Keep Windows and Doors Closed: Seal off your living space to prevent smoke from infiltrating indoors.
  3. Take Medications as Prescribed: Continue taking your prescribed medications regularly. If you use inhalers or nebulizers, keep them nearby in case you need them.

  4. Have a Respirator Mask: Consider having N95 or P100 respirator masks on hand. These masks can provide extra protection when you must go outside or when indoor air quality is compromised. Ensure they fit snugly to your face.

  5. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your body clear out any particles that may have entered your respiratory system.

  6. Plan for Emergencies: Have an emergency kit prepared, including essential medications, important medical records, and a portable oxygen supply if needed.

  7. Stay Informed and Evacuate if Necessary: Listen to local authorities and be ready to evacuate if instructed. Evacuation might be necessary if the wildfire threat becomes too severe.

  8. Stay Calm and Manage Stress: Stress can exacerbate lung conditions. Engage in stress-relieving activities like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.


Should You Exercise Indoors When Air Quality Is Poor Outside?

First, it’s important to understand the potential risks of exercising in poor air quality:

  1. Respiratory Problems: Inhaling polluted or smoky air can irritate your respiratory system, leading to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and even exacerbating pre-existing conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

  2. Heart Health: Poor air quality can also affect your cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related issues.

  3. Reduced Performance: Bad air quality can hamper your workout performance by decreasing oxygen intake and causing fatigue more quickly.

Factors to Consider

Before deciding whether to exercise outdoors or move your workout indoors, consider the following factors:

  1. Air Quality Index (AQI): Check the AQI for your area. The AQI is a measure of how clean or polluted the air is. If the AQI is in the unhealthy range (usually above 150), it’s best to avoid outdoor exercise.

  2. Your Health: If you have a respiratory condition or cardiovascular issues, it’s wise to be more cautious. Consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

  3. Intensity and Duration: High-intensity or long-duration workouts may expose you to more pollutants. Consider shorter or less intense workouts on days with poor air quality.

Exercising Indoors

When the air quality is poor, opting for indoor exercise can be a safer choice. Here are some indoor exercise options:

  1. Home Workouts: You can follow online workout videos, do yoga, or use home exercise equipment if available. Join the iMaster Health Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation and enjoy a variety of home exercise videos and breathing techniques. Join for free: You can also join the iMaster Health Lung Workshop to receive supervised exercise training via Zoom. For more information on the Lung Workshop visit:

  2. Gym or Fitness Center: Many gyms have excellent air filtration systems. Check if your local gym is equipped with air purifiers.

  3. Indoor Sports: Consider playing indoor sports like basketball, racquetball, or swimming in a pool with good ventilation.

Tips For Indoor Workouts

  1. Warm Up: Start with a proper warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise.

  2. Proper Ventilation: Ensure the indoor space is well-ventilated to reduce the concentration of indoor air pollutants.

  3. Stay Hydrated: Even indoors, it’s essential to stay hydrated during your workout.

  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel during the workout. If you experience any discomfort or unusual symptoms, stop immediately.

Wildfire smoke can be particularly hazardous for individuals living with chronic lung diseases, but with proper precautions and proactive measures, you can protect your lungs and reduce the risks. Staying informed, creating a clean indoor environment, taking prescribed medications, and having a plan in place are all essential steps to safeguard your respiratory health during wildfire events. Remember that consulting with your healthcare provider for personalized advice is also crucial. By being prepared and proactive, you can navigate wildfire season with greater peace of mind and better lung health.

If you or a loved one are living with a chronic respiratory condition, join the iMaster Health Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program to receive comprehensive exercise training, breathing techniques and education tailored to your lung condition and physical abilities. Improve your lung health today! Why Wait? It’s FREE! 

Interested in supervised exercise training? Join the iMaster Health 8-week Lung Workshop! You will work with an experienced rehabilitation specialist to strengthen your respiratory muscles and improve physical function. Book a complimentary consultation to get started!

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Pulmonary rehabilitation helps ease respiratory symptoms, improve physical and psychological well-being, and increase disease management. Please discuss your decision to begin online pulmonary rehabilitation with a doctor or health care provider.

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