Learning to co-exist with seasonal allergies & outdoor exercise


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Allergy season will rear its ugly head sooner than you can say “antihistamine.” For those who would rather get stuck with a thousands pins than suffer through another season of allergies, the thought of exercising outdoors sends shivers down their spines. But wait! Don’t hang up those running shoes yet. The trick to working out during allergy season is to be proactive and practice common sense.

The following tips will help you enjoy being active in the great outdoors.

  • Take all allergy and asthma medications as prescribed. If you haven’t been to an allergist yet, go! You will be tested to determine what allergens you are allergic to, if any. Here’s what to expect at your first visit. Your doctor can then treat your symptoms and recommend activities to do and to avoid. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is currently scheduling free asthma and nasal allergy screenings in communities across the country.
  • Track the pollen level in your area. Pollen.com provides a four-day pollen allergy forecast; just type in your ZIP code.
  • Avoid areas that contain high levels of allergens and irritants (e.g., fields, trees and busy roads).
  • Breathe through the nose as much as possible when exercising, says the American College of Sports Medicine. The nasal passages act as natural filters and humidifiers to maintain air at proper temperatures, as well as filter out allergens, pollutants and irritants.
  • Perform a prolonged aerobic warmup and cool-down (15 minutes each) if you have asthma; this can reduce the chances or severity of exercise-induced asthma.
  • Know that some activities — such as running, cycling, and basketball — are more likely to cause exercise-induced asthma; resistance training, baseball and swimming are less likely.
  • If you just came back from a workout, there’s a good chance that there is pollen on your skin and hair. To protect other people in your household from your pollen-infested workout clothes, remove them as soon as you get home and jump in the shower.

Environmental cues

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says that climate factors  can also influence how bad allergy symptoms might be in a particular region. Look for these environmental warning signs that severe allergy symptoms will soon follow:

  • Tree, grass and ragweed pollens thrive on cool nights and warm days.
  • Molds like heat and humidity.
  • Pollen levels tend to peak in the morning hours.
  • Rain washes pollen away, but their counts skyrocket after a rain.
  • On a day with no wind, airborne allergens are grounded.
  • When the day is windy and warm, pollen counts surge.