Scents and Fitness They Don't Mix

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This article was edited and updated on December 20, 2021.

An Artificially Fragrant World

Fragrances are everywhere: in our cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and our personal-care products. Scents have been used for centuries, but before the 20th century, they were made mostly from plants and animals. But that is not so much the case today.

The National Academy of Sciences reports that 95% of fragrances manufactured today are synthetic compounds, usually made from petroleum, many of them the same chemicals that are found in cigarette smoke or gasoline. These compounds can be toxic; in some cases, to all; in other cases, to those who suffer from allergies or asthma.

In Canada and all over the world, there are some regulations on perfumes and scents. A simple internet search will bring up numerous organizations that deal with these regulations.

Side Effects of Fragrances

We can inhale fragrances through the nose, ingest them through the mouth, or absorb them through our skin. Once in contact with our body, these chemicals can affect our lungs, the nose, the skin, the eyes, and the brain.

Here are some known side effects for some people, whether you are wearing it or standing near someone who is:

What happens during exercise?

Scents intensify with sweating. Your neighbour may get a headache, feel nauseated, become short of breath, feel dizzy — or even have an asthma attack — simply because their immune system reacts to the perfume.

Of course, perfume isn’t the only thing that may be the cause of your neighbour’s distress. But eliminating the perfume would certainly help anyone who suffers from an allergy to scents.

It seems obvious that, as a courtesy to others, one should not wear perfumes or scents to fitness class. Your fitness class neighbours will thank you.

See also:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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