Monday, December 14, 2015

Sick and Tired in Shanghai

young woman in Shanghai wearing a coat with the words "SICK AND TIRED" on its back
Today at Qipu Lu in Shanghai

I had planned to be blogging quite a bit more the past week or so since returning to China. Plans . . .

Unfortunately, last week something decided to wreak havoc on my sinuses and seemingly my brain as well. I wasn't sure whether it was virus-related or pollution-related. I considered the latter since it somewhat reminded me of how my sinuses reacted when I first went running in Shanghai's pollution over a decade ago during a trip from the U.S. And yes, after starting to run again during my recent trip to the U.S., I ran in Shanghai during a couple not-so-great days for air (which is most). Whatever I have, it isn't a run-of-the-mill cold for me, especially in terms of how it ebbs and flows. I think I am over the worst.

On a related note . . . yes, it's best to exercise in clean air. And bad air is, of course, bad. That's straightforward. But the science I've seen on the health impact of exercise when polluted air is the only option seems to be a mixed bag. There's reason to think it might be a net good, at least for some health aspects. But these studies focused on Western-style pollution, so it's unclear how the findings apply to China-style pollution — different in both its content and amount.

I have my personal limits though. For example, once I had gotten myself into an outdoor running routine while in Zhuhai and Hong Kong. But that came to an immediate halt upon arriving in Changsha where I spent a couple of months. That first morning I looked outside the window at the awful air and despondently thought "no way".

I would like to keep up the outdoor running, so next time I may try it with a face mask. It's cold outside, so perhaps the heat the mask traps on my face will be a pleasant bonus. Anyway, soon I will be in parts of China with typically better air quality. Hopefully I'm not killing myself. If I am, there are the words of famed cache clearer Chester Walsh: "Like I always say, you gotta die prematurely of something."

So yeah, as the coat in the photo above proclaims, I've been sick and tired. Come to think of it, that applies to my feelings about China's air too.

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