Posted on 05/09/2018 11:49:08
“The environment”. We all know its important. But it’s also something that I think a lot of us are happy to leave to others. Labels like “eco-warriors” abound and conjure up images, depending on our age, of Greenpeace activists, Swampy or trendy crusading milliennials.  

Maybe it’s that the environment is too macro for us to get our heads round. Maybe the scale of the problems, make it easier to leave it to someone else. Maybe, with busy lives, we don’t feel equipped to take on the challenge facing a planet.  

We can all look at the horrifying statistics and see that air pollution is a killer. A really serious killer. We can also read in today’s Guardian reports of a recent study linking air pollution with a determinable loss in intelligence.  

All pretty horrifying, but I wonder if it’s still enough to make us really take the problem seriously on an individual level.  

As a running and nutritional habit coach, I find this a bit perverse. Working on The AirSensa Bond has caused me to challenge my own beliefs and to be hard on my opinions.   More and more people are questioning how they live their lives.

They are looking for answers. A whole movement is growing about self-care. We are living in a rapidly changing world. Strides in technological advancement are to be wondered at. They are an incredible testament to humanity. They bring more challenges than we can yet understand. Social media, constant connectivity and access to information, are distorting the world we thought we knew. Its commonplace to hear about a mental health epidemic.  

It is against this backdrop that people are trying to reassess how to live their lives. They recognise that something isn’t quite right. That change is needed. Eating healthily and exercising have always been on the agenda, but they are becoming the mainstream, not the preserve of “health nuts”. The movement towards teetotalism is gathering apace. Again, this isn’t morally motivated. Its being driven, aside from financial constraints, by people thinking more carefully about how they value their time, their bodies and what they do for leisure.  

And then we have nature. Whether its walking the dog, “forest bathing” or running ultra marathons, people are turning to the outdoors. The benefits of spending time outside for mental wellbeing are well documented, nowhere better so than in Johann Hari’s brilliant recent book The Lost Connections.  

So we are thinking more and more about what we put into our bodies, how we engage them in activity and where we spend our time.  

Why then aren’t we think more directly, personally and seriously about the air we breathe? Why is it different from food and alcohol in terms of our cultural health driven consciousness?  

“The environment” isn’t as I tend to default to, the concern of governments, or well motivated campaigners. It’s as basic as the dictionary definition. the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives.  

With that in mind, in the same way that we think about food, exercise and where we spend our time, surely we should be taking an individual role in protecting the air we breathe? It’s not a political issue. Its basic self-care.

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By Gavin Maitland-Smith

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