British Columbia

Athletes in Lower Mainland affected by air quality advisory

Some elite level athletes are taking precautionary measures because of an air quality advisory in the Lower Mainland.

Poor air quality prompts some athletes to change training routines

Smoke from wildfires in B.C.'s Interior has caused haze across the Lower Mainland. (CBC)

The Lower Mainland is far from wildfires burning across B.C.'s Interior, but shifting winds and drifting smoke have put it under an air quality advisory that's causing some elite level athletes to change their workout regimes.

"We're definitely pushing the lung capacity with our conditioning," said Dan Kenzie, a strength and conditioning coach with Fortius Sport and Health.

Kenzie trains NHL players in the off season, and with the pre-season six weeks away, players are training to get game ready with on and off-ice work outs.

However, high-level training at his Burnaby facility has been moved inside as a precaution until the smoky haze clears. 

"I think it was Monday we tried to get out there, and some of the athletes did mention how it was smoky," said Kenzie. "We did a bit of a warm up outside, then we made the decision to bring it in."

'Be aware,' says trainer

Health officials are discouraging strenuous activity outdoors for everyone — be they athletes or not — while the air quality advisory remains in place. 

"Heavier breathing will allow more air pollution to enter the lungs," said Hedieh Hafizi a clinical exercise physiologist at Copeman Healthcare.

"Inhaling carbon monoxide decreases the body's oxygen supply and can cause respiratory irritation such as shortness of breath, and it can also aggravate any preexisting medical conditions," Hafizi said. 

But not all athletes are heeding the warning.

The BC Lions practiced outside Thursday as per usual, and the Peak Centre for Human Performance in Vancouver, which trains many triathletes, hasn't issued a recommendation to their athletes. 

"It's more 'be aware of the situation,' so that should they start to have concerns, stop exercising and seek medical advise as needed," said Lewis Morrison, director of sports science for the centre. 

This advisory is expected to continue until there is a change in the weather.