Experts advise on best time to jog and best suburbs to live
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | It is not odd to find Kampala’s growing number of fitness buffs jogging around the city’s suburban streets in the late afternoon—between 4-7pm. Every day of the week, they run up and down the city’s hills and slopes in small groups, in pairs while some choose to go about their business solo.
For many runners, this is the best time of the day to exercise since they spend many hours seated in their offices. But researchers on air pollution from Makerere University say Kampala’s fitness enthusiasts might want to adjust their running schedules if they want to maximize benefits of running. The advice they give is based on Kampala’s ever deteriorating air quality.
Air quality is measured by the Air Quality Index (AQI) which works like a thermometer running from a scale of 0-500. According to the US’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the index shows the changes in the amount of pollution in the air and the higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern.
The researchers say Kampala’s air quality varies throughout the course of the day, thanks to a combination of changes in weather and air temperature as well as human activities done at different times of the day.
“Kampala is too segmented with so many enclaves of informal settlements, the topography of the area, the population and activities done in that area and so pollution is normally on a micro scale,” says Joel Ssematimba, an engineer at AirQo, a Makerere University-based research initiative which is collecting, analyzing and forecasting air quality data in Uganda.
The researchers say the level of particulate matter or contaminated microscopic particles suspended in the air in most parts of Kampala are lowest in the mid-afternoon and highest in the evening. This means that exercising outdoors in the evening is actually worse for one’s health.
Worst time to jog
“The worst time to jog in Kampala is in the morning hours while afternoon hours are the best,” Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha, the Principal Investigator at AirQo told The Independent recently.
“By 3pm, most areas have moderate air quality or unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups such as those who are asthmatic,” said Prof. Bainomugisha on Feb.26, “At around 8PM, Kampala’s air registers red (unhealthy) and orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) in some instances but it can turn purple (very unhealthy).”
Air pollution is one of the leading preventable causes of death around the world. The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) says it kills nearly seven million people every year. WHO adds that ambient air pollution, made of high concentrations of particulate matter (PM) is the greatest environmental risk to human health causing more than three million premature deaths worldwide every year. Health experts warn that as urban air quality declines, the risk of acute respiratory diseases (asthma), strokes, heart disease and lung cancer increases for the people who live in cities like Kampala.