Here’s How Air Quality Data Can Boost Your Fitness App's Performance

May 19, 2024
2 min read
Here’s How Air Quality Data Can Boost Your Fitness App's PerformanceHere’s How Air Quality Data Can Boost Your Fitness App's Performance

The focus on personal health and well-being has never been stronger. As the world continues to face worsening environmental conditions, people constantly look for intelligent ways to adapt and care for their bodies and minds. In light of that, health and fitness apps have become a permanent presence in almost everyone’s smart devices. These apps have become tremendously popular in recent years owing to greater public awareness and health concerns.

However, there is one crucial factor that most fitness apps have not yet capitalized on– air quality. When one considers the many ways in which air quality impacts workout performance, it will seem crucial to include its insights into the applications.

Air quality and fitness performance

Whether one is pursuing athletic training, physical therapy, conditioning, or just a plain and simple workout–air quality levels spare none from its effects.

As mentioned before, air quality has a serious impact on exercise and workout performance, as well as on overall health. Exposure to air pollution can lead to decreased lung function, increased respiratory symptoms, and decreased exercise capacity. Increase of 10 mg per cubic meter of PM10 air pollution can be expected to decrease marathon performance by 1.4%.

In 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, athlete Steve Ovett collapsed with respiratory problems after the 800 meters run. He cited air pollution as a major trigger for his exercise induced asthma.

A study also found that exposure to high levels of air pollution can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke–which is something to be very cautious of while doing intensive training.

Research on air pollution and cardiovascular disease
Source: Research on air pollution and cardiovascular disease

In another study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, it was found that exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause fatigue and decreased endurance during exercise, as the body must work harder to perform the same level of activity. This means that even if one is working hard and being consistent with their health plan, they might not see the results they were hoping for.

A study conducted by a German professional football league suggested that a 1% increase in PM10 concentration leads to a 0.02% decrease in the performance of professional soccer players.

Total distance relation to changes in air quality
Differences in total distance covered by soccer players in relation to changes in air quality categories

Poor air quality also increases the risk of injury during exercise, as the body may not be receiving enough oxygen and nutrients to support proper muscle and joint function.

And it’s not just the athletes. A research explored how the decisions of Major League Baseball umpires were affected by air pollution. 1ppm (parts per million) increase in carbon monoxide over a three-hour period caused an 11.5% increase in the propensity of umpires to make incorrect calls.

Baseball umpires misjudges due to poor air quality
Source: Sustainability report

In fact, it’s not just the body that suffers. Air pollution has also been proven to mess with mental health. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to polluted air can cause (and aggravate) anxiety, depression, and deteriorate basic cognitive function. One of the many reasons why people have turned to these apps is because they provide them with a framework that keeps them motivated. Since air quality levels affect it, it will certainly enhance the user experience if it’s integrated into their plan.

One of Ambee’s clients, Juli, used air quality data in their app better identify how these factors had an impact on mental health and helped their customers them manage their conditions with data-backed decisions. With the integration of Ambee’s datasets, juli were able to assess the well-being of each individual and assist them with healthier living.

A hidden factor–Pollen

While we have explored the impact of air quality on fitness and well-being, it is also worth noting the significant ways in which pollen counts can alter health conditions.

Pollen can have a big impact on how well we exercise. When the pollen count is high, it can make it harder for us to breathe and can cause symptoms like sneezing and congestion. This can make it tough to exercise at our best and can slow down our recovery time. Pollen can also cause inflammation in our airways, leading to coughing and wheezing. This can make our muscles sore and make it even harder to perform at our best.

People who have allergies—roughly 30% of the global population—have it especially hard and often find it difficult to do intense cardio exercises during the pollen season, this could be a great opportunity for app developers to provide a more holistic and personable healthcare plan for their users.

To learn more about how pollen affects human health.

If air quality and pollen datasets are needed on-the-go with better vizualization, pollen maps and air quality maps are always a great way to gain better insights about a locality or ambient environment.

Live air quality and pollen maps to understand pollution and pollen behavior
Ambee’s latest air quality and pollen map page to better understand pollution and pollen behavior

The benefits of integrating air quality data in fitness apps

Now that we know how environmental conditions impact exercise performance, here are some ways air quality data integration can boost your fitness app's performance:

1. Real-time air quality information

Integrating air quality data into fitness apps can provide users with real-time information about the air quality in their surroundings. This information can help users plan their workouts accordingly, avoiding areas with high levels of pollution or allergens. Users can also receive alerts and notifications when the air quality in their area drops below a certain level, helping them make informed decisions about whether to exercise outside or not.

Ambee’s industry-validated air quality API is the best fit for this need since it provides real-time and hyperlocal air quality data for any lat long on Earth. Our data is analyzed from multiple sources, including our proprietary sensors, to give the highest level of accuracy.

2. Personalized workout recommendation

By analyzing air quality data, fitness apps can provide personalized workout recommendations based on the user's location and the current air quality. For example, if the air quality is poor in a user's area, the app can recommend indoor workouts or suggest alternative routes for outdoor workouts that have better air quality. This can help users avoid exposure to harmful pollutants and allergens, ensuring they stay healthy and safe while exercising.

3. Improved performance tracking

Integrating air quality data into fitness apps can also improve performance tracking. By monitoring air quality data, apps can identify the impact of air quality on the user's performance and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if a user's performance drops due to poor air quality, the app can suggest alternative workouts or adjust the user's fitness goals to ensure they are achievable and safe. In the same vein, the app can provide pollution-related insights and notifications.

4. Enhanced user experience

Integrating air quality data into fitness apps can enhance the overall user experience. By providing users with real-time air quality information and personalized recommendations, users can feel more confident and informed about their workouts. This can help them stay motivated and engaged with the app, leading to better results and increased satisfaction.

The future of fitness apps

As more people become aware of the importance of breathing clean air during physical activities, developers of fitness apps have a massive opportunity to make their products better for their customers. With advances in technology, these apps will be able to provide even more detailed and accurate information about air quality, helping users to make informed decisions about when and where to exercise and lead healthier lives.

Are you interested in integrating environmental data into your apps? 

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