It is indeed a challenge to do outdoor exercises if you are an individual with allergies. Here are a few things to keep in mind when going for some exercise outdoors.
Know the triggers for allergies
“It is very important to know what you are allergic to”, says Michael Blaiss, MD, a past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and a practicing allergist in Memphis. Different types of pollen affects people at different levels. Thus, tree pollen levels above 50 is considered to be high, while pollen levels between 1 and 10 is considered low. One can track the pollen count for trees, mold, weeds, and grass across the U.S on the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website.
Avoid being outdoors when the pollen count is high
The time between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and again at dusk, is when the pollen count is at its highest. “It is better to plan the outdoor workouts for other times of the day when the levels of pollen are lower”, says Blaiss. Once back home, remember to rinse your nose with saline to wash away any pollen that may have snuck its way in your nose. You can also opt for anti-allergy nasal sprays if you have to work out when pollen levels are high.
Consider the weather outdoors
Dry, warm, and windy days encourage the highest pollen levels, and outdoor exercise during these days should be avoided. The wind blows pollen for miles, says Blaiss. High humidity in the atmosphere can also affect and individual's breathing. This happens when the air feels heavy. In addition, humidity can stimulate the growth of mold, which further affects people who are allergic. Rain, on the other hand, clears the air, making it good for outdoor activities if you have allergies, suggests Blaiss.
Choose the activity with care
“Activities like tennis, which has start-and-stop phases, trigger allergic response in people who are prone to allergies, when compared to continuous activities, like running”, remarks Marjorie L. Slankard, MD, clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Swimming and biking are activities that are good to build up strength in the lungs, but one should be careful as chlorine in the pool may trigger a response in some. In this case, swimming should not be opted for. Although running is a good option, running in cold weather may also trigger allergic reactions. This is mostly due to exercise-induced bronchospasm, a sudden constriction of the air passages. This can be treated, and the person may be able to continue with the activity later on.
Avoid staying outside for too long
Fatigue is very common in people who exercise outdoors because of the stress of pollen. One may prefer to stay indoors if the activity results in unacceptable symptoms. Some of the symptoms to look out for include swelling around the eyes, hives, and prolonged nasal or eye symptoms. “In such cases, it is better to be indoors and exercise with the windows closed”, says Slankard.
Take medications prior to allergy season
Taking medications prior to the season would help to alleviate the symptoms to a large extent. Thus, a person who has spring allergies should start the medications through the summer. Pay attention to the weather to see whether pollens and molds would be released and take necessary precautions.