If you have allergies and you're an exerciser, you've probably spent some time looking up ways to either make your allergies go away or, barring that, make the symptoms less obnoxious. If you've spent any time on this, you've probably seen the usual recommendations which include:
- Doing more 'allergy-friendly' activities. If the pollen count is high, running, walking, cycling or other activities that increase your breathing rate can make things worse as you inhale the airborne pollens. You may be able to avoid problems by doing activities that don't involve a lot of huffing and puffing - light walking, stretching, etc.
- Avoid exercising outside when the pollen count is higher. You'll have more problems in the morning, between 5-10 am or if the weather is dry, breezy and warm. Cool or rainy weather may make exercise more comfortable - at least for your allergies.
- Shower after working out outdoors. Here's something interesting that we may not think about: Your reaction to pollen may actually hit you after your workout. While you're moving around outside, the adrenalin your body produces may mute your allergic response. It's about an hour after your workout that you may have symptoms. Shower right after your workout and put on clean clothes to reduce your chances of a reaction.
- Be careful with medication. There are plenty of allergy medications out there and many of them can make outdoor activity more enjoyable. But, if you aren't used to them, you might feel sleepy, foggy or out of it during your workouts. Be aware of that so you don't do what one of my clients did when she was taking Sudafed which involved a treadmill and a cat. That's pretty much all you need to know to get the picture there.
These tips are all well and good, but I'll confess that I don't always follow them. I'm fine exercising at different times and showering after being outside, but I'm not going to let some stupid airborne allergen stop me from going outside for my favorite activities, right? What I do (and I'm no doctor, so listen to yours before you listen to me) is pay attention to the daily pollen count, pre-take my non-drowsy allergy medication (which you should get from your doctor or pharmacist) when necessary, pack some tissues and pay attention to how I'm feeling. If the meds make me feel extra foggy or thirsty, I may cut my workout short or move it indoors. Sometimes you have to practice with your medication before you know how it may affect your workouts.
Do you have seasonal allergies and, if so, how do they affect your workouts? How do you deal with your allergies and still keep up with your exercise routine? Leave a comment and tell us about it.