This website just received an enquiry from someone coming to live in Kathmandu. The essence of the question was this:
“Having heard about Kathmandu’s pollution problem, I’m really keen to find out a bit more about how easy it is to get good aerobic exercise in the city?”
It’s a good question. If you observe a few minutes in the day for a traffic policeman posted on one of the main road junctions in the city, you’ll certainly question his or her life expectancy. In one busy section of road in Putalisadak, which translates to butterfly road, the pollution levels get up to double the agreed level of dangerous. All the butterflies are long gone needless to say.
Many people here don’t get beyond imagining it to be impossible to run here.
But still, away from the main roads there is less traffic, the air is less polluted, and you can safely go running. Many mornings in the week I head from Lazimpat, through the back streets of Ranibari, crossing the infamous ring-road (hold your breath) and into Dhapasi. Another few kilometres on, and you’re out into the fields near Tokha with the buffaloes, the sowing of seeds or harvesting of rice or wheat. It’s wonderful.
The run is about 13 km and if that is too far, it is easy to take a bike for 10 minutes and lock it somewhere before starting.
Similarly, in the NGO-quarter of town arond Sanepa, it is pretty much the same but heading south. Head through Dhobighat to Chobar or south to Bungmati – fresh air in abundance, though don’t get too close to the Bagmati river there.
Check this map of trails here: http://trailrunningnepal.org/running-trails-around-kathmandu/
For some other runs in Kathmandu see these Kathmandu running trails.
Finally, there is the world famous HASH which happens every Saturday somewhere in the Kathmandu valley. The Himalayan House House Harriers website is here. Jurgen has documented many of their past runs here:
So to answer the question, it’s very much possible – just takes a bit of determination!