Eight Ways To Keep Yourself Fit Amidst Winter Pollution

how to brave winter pollution in Delhi

Winter season in the national capital this year is strangely bittersweet. While most of us look forward to the cool respite after months of sweltering heat, the chilly weather do entail a variety of problems for many. This is because it is a combination of frigid winds blowing from the Himalayas, and the soaring pollution levels that are now synonymous with Delhi. There is not much to look forward to due to the winter pollution in Delhi.

While small life measures cannot be mistaken for a complete solution, they can make an impact on the individual’s life. Here are a few handy tips to battle the ongoing cold, polluted winter season in Delhi!

1. Exercise Indoors

We have long been recommended a dose of fresh air in the morning for a healthy start to the day. However, walks and outdoor sports no longer provide benefits as they come with toxic levels of pollution that we end up inhaling. Exercising leads to inhaling even more air, and that too through our mouths and not through our nose. Undertaking a strenuous activities like jogging in the locality or enjoying a game of badminton now exposes our lungs to dangerous smog.

Thus, at least in the winters, indoor activities need to be prioritized. This may include going to an indoor gymnasium for burning calories or exercising at home. The former may come at a cost and that is the added cost we need to pay for not taking care of our trees, when we needed to. Home gyms, like multipurpose treadmill have become a sound health and economic investment in the present day.

2. Focus on Nutrition

Without doubt, food plays a major role in helping the body fight the ill-effects of pollution. As the ugly smog engulfs the city and health deteriorates, we have very little control over how the environment treats us. Our own weakened immune system leaves our body defenseless against respiratory ailments, flu, asthma, and even cardiovascular conditions. Consuming fruits rich in Vitamin C, Magnesium and Omega Fatty Acids can certainly help.

Additionally, below are some age old home remedies that are often dismissed but definitely work.

3. Eat Jaggery

Making jaggery (or gudd) part of your life is a good way to detoxify. It flushes out toxins from your body including from your respiratory system. You can replace sugar in food preparations with jaggery , reducing your intake of artificial sweeteners and adding a natural element to your diet!

4. Consume Fluids Regularly

Tulsi tea with ginger is a home remedy that is recommended time and again to fight the cold as well as to limit the effects of pollution. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Tulsi has been known to be high in anti-oxidants and anti-histamines which aid in flushing away toxins from the body and boosting immunity levels. Green tea is another option and the idea is to keep having warm fluids regularly. Ingredients like cinnamon powder, honey, etc. may also be used for an overall enriching winter.

5. Use Natural Ghee

Ghee has been used in Ayurveda medicines and is greatly recommended for its anti-allergic properties. Cow ghee or clarified butter, applied in the nostrils, helps keep pollutants away. Consuming ghee every day also helps to flush out the toxic effects of lead and mercury, which are the by-products of air pollution.

6. Steam

Inhaling steam has been known to have positive effects on skin. The resulting increase in perspiration dilates the blood vessels and increases circulation in the body. Adding a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in the water is found to be helpful in de-congesting the nasal cavity. Steaming water vapour, breathed for 5-10 minutes at a stretch, helps relieve asthma symptoms which tend to get aggravated due to high levels of pollution.

Studies suggest that cineole, the active ingredient in Eucalyptus oil, promotes anti-inflammatory activity. The dual benefits of steaming are that it prevents against both cold and pollution. This makes it a highly appealing remedy that should be put to use.

7. Plan Before You Head Out

Delhiites have still not got the hang of this. The Air Quality in Delhi constantly becomes unhealthy and severe, especially during more foggy days or at peak hours. Your local AQI (Air Quality Index) is a good indicator of the levels of pollution you are likely to encounter when you step out. AQI values are updated hourly and can be simply Googled. Use this information to find out the least and most polluted areas before you step out and plan you travel accordingly.

This is important especially during the winter season, when we see a lot of variation in Air Quality due to differences in wind patterns and location. It is a very good idea to pay attention to the changing Air Quality Index of different parts of Delhi and avoid critically polluted areas. Exposure to high concentrations of toxins at critically polluted areas is a grave health hazard, however short the duration.

8. Keep Your Masks Handy

Face masks with active carbon filters along with valves for breathing are a must in Delhi. It makes for easier breathing during these hard months, and improves the quality of air you take in. During rush hour, and while exercising outdoors, a pollution mask is a must. It is a good idea to buy and keep a face mask handy this winter.

Face masks certainly tend to get uncomfortable because you have to exert greater force to breathe. And while finding a mask with good ventilation is important, especially while doing heavy work. But the discomfort and frustration of wearing a mask is a again something we have invited by not taking proper care of our trees.

So while we do need to adopt the above measures to find quick relief from air pollution, long term relief from air pollution in Delhi will only come from planting and protecting trees. And that is a lesson we have learnt the hard way.

Yusra Khan

Yusra completed her undergraduate degree from Miranda House, University of Delhi and is committed to the cause of environmental protection.

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