Diagonal Avenue in Barcelona is one of the most popular places to exercise in the city. All day you will see people of all ages running up and down the sidewalks of this busy road. They exercise, work out and try their best to stay in shape, while sweating under the sweltering Mediterranean sun. When travelling, I always try to keep fit, and it is quite a challenge with the heat compared to running back home in the UK. However, the main thing I noticed in the Spanish cities I stayed in was the quality of air, which made it harder to breathe when running.
The problem is that Barcelona is one of the worst areas in the country for air pollution. It’s joked that you’re better off smoking two packs of cigarettes a day than exercising on Diagonal Avenue. Toxic fumes from traffic pollutes the air and causes problems, not just in the city, but also in surrounding areas. The wind carries particles to places where you think the air would be clean.
I remember going to London a few years ago and stupidly laughing at the people wearing masks in the streets. I had never seen this before in my town in the countryside. How ignorant I was, thinking they looked silly, when they were simply trying to avoid the fumes. They were maintaining their health better than I was, unthinkingly running in a polluted city.
Sometimes we need to stop and think.