Podcast: Episode 154: Can the air quality be too bad to exercise? With Dr Kevin Shilling


This year, hundreds of square miles in the western US has been on fire, resulting in terrible air quality which often has exceeded EPA guidelines.  Dr Kevin Shilling is a long time ultrarunner, was 10th at the HR100 this year, and is a pulmonary physician based in Salt Lake City.  So we ask him an important question:

When does air pollution get so bad it's better not to exercise?

"That depends on how badly you want to go for a run."

He really did say that!  Kevin provides intelligent, balanced, nuanced, and personal answers.  Four factors are:

  1. How healthy are you, are you experiencing any problems, how does it feel?
  2. What is your level of effort? An easy hour is different than a hard workout.
  3. When was the last time you ran?  If yesterday, maybe take a day off and wait for better conditions; if you've already taken 3 days off, well ...
  4. What is the AQI?  Over 100 might be unhealthy for some people while over 150 can still be tolerated by most; an AQI over 200?

"I wouldn't do it."

Check the Air Quality Index where you live right now.  If you live in some parts of the west, checking the AQI may become as common as checking the weather report.  The Air Now app for your phone is worth using.

Full CV

Kevin Shilling

  • Age: 53
  • City: Salt Lake City
  • Occupation: Physician; Pulmonary/Critical, Care/Sleep Medicine
  • Family - - -
    • Wife Mara is a Family Medicine Physician and Medical Director of Utah Health and Human Rights
    • Son Ezra is 17, runs cross country and track
    • Daughter Talia is 14, runner, skier, debater
  • Sports Highlights - - -
    • Still upright and running after 30 years of trail time
    • (Humble alert: Kevin was 10th at this years Hardrock 100, 3rd in 2004, with numerous top-10 and wins in other ultra's)
  • Social Media - - -
    • Not a fan
    • On Strava but I don't know the address
    • Have a facebook account but never check

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