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Google Maps Unveils a Fresh Appearance Featuring Air Quality Information and More!

Respiration is the source our lungs and heart (alternatively known as the cardiorespiratory system) utilize to energize our muscles when we engage in physical activity, which is why it’s essential to ensure that the air we breathe isn’t contaminated while we’re absorbing it during a workout. This is particularly crucial because during exercise, we inhale approximately five to six times more oxygen than when we are at rest, as pointed out by Russell Buhr, MD, PhD, a pulmonologist at UCLA Health.

Therefore, when there’s a day with escalated pollution levels due to various factors such as wildfires or smog-capturing heat, exercising outdoors implies an increase in the amount of pollutants and irritants you inhale, according to Dr. Buhr. He emphasizes that this poses a greater risk for individuals with pre-existing lung conditions like asthma.

Nevertheless, instances of air pollution are on the rise, and Dr. Buhr suggests that upon hearing about a wildfire or a day with heavy pollution, it’s definitely advisable to check the air quality outdoors to determine if it would be more beneficial to work out indoors. Fortunately, Google has recently streamlined this process by introducing a new air quality layer within its application.

The updated feature allows users to view the Air Quality Index rating, a metric calculated by entities like the EPA and other local organizations across the nation, without the need to manually search for “AQI near me.”

This latest app enhancement was influenced by user feedback, notes Hema Budaraju, a senior director of product in health & search social impact at Google. “Many users have expressed their desire to have access to weather and air quality information while planning outings and activities,” she explains. “If you’re preparing for an outdoor excursion and notice a poor forecast or air quality, you can utilize Google search and maps to explore alternative options.”

Similarly, Google has integrated a wildfire layer into its maps, indicating the locations of wildfires in your vicinity, which can serve as an additional reason to avoid outdoor workouts.

To access these layers, ensure your Google Maps app is updated to the latest version. Then, click on the layers icon located in the top-right corner, and select the layer you wish to view. No additional searching needed! Air quality is presented in clear categories like “good,” “moderate,” and “poor.”

In general, assessing air quality by appearance alone is inaccurate. “Even if the sky appears relatively clear, air quality may still be substandard,” cautions Dr. Buhr. Therefore, it’s wise to check the AQI of your workout location. Even if you don’t have an existing pulmonary condition, it’s a beneficial practice to adopt, considering that 90% of the global population resides in areas with inferior air quality, and air pollution remains a prominent concern for international health organizations.

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