Londoners have been told to avoid outdoor exercise today – here’s why

A genuinely good reason not to go for a jog after work

Written by
Lauryn Berry
Heavy pollution sits over London's skyline between 21-24 January.
Photograph: Adam Cowell /

If you needed reason to sack off any ‘new year, new me’ plans to go for runs every day this January – here is a good one. 

The Government’s official source on UK air pollution has issued a warning, alerting Londoners that the pollution levels are very high right now. They are so high that according to IQAir, the PM2.5 (particulate matter) concentration in the city is currently 6.3 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommended annual air quality. The last time the air was this toxic was way back in March 2018.

The government’s health advice states that all those with respiratory or heart problems should avoid any kind of strenuous activity, while everyone else should reduce physical exertion, especially outdoors. 

You might especially want to avoid the Hammersmith and Stratford areas where the pollution levels are expected to be the worst. 

Mayor Sadiq Khan announced last December that ‘toxic air pollution is a public health crisis, highlighting the recent increase in car use and traffic to pre-pandemic levels. This surge in pollution levels was caused by extremely high pressure which causes a lack of air movement and traps all the polluting emissions in.    

While these figures are worrying, a doctor’s order to stay at home, binge-watch 'The Tourist', and not lift a finger all day doesn’t sound too shabby – especially when a worldwide pandemic is still raging outside. 

Plus, on Saturday the city’s pollution levels are expected to lower to normal (if you can call it that) levels, and we can all go back to pretending we enjoy physical exercise.  

Green Park tube station has been rebranded in honour of David Attenborough.

Hooray for the planet! 2021 was the best ever year for the Santander bike scheme.

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