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Fitness Articles  ›  Special Concerns

Exercising with Seasonal Allergies

Don't Let Allergens Interfere with Your Workouts

-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor & Health Educator
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Here are some tips that will help prevent and reduce your allergy symptoms so you can exercise comfortably.
  • If you're allergic to dust mites, you can avoid breathing indoor dust by exercising outdoors.
  • If you're allergic to grasses and weeds, avoid these allergens by exercising indoors during the height of the allergy season.
  • Air pollution can trigger a tightening of the airways in sensitive individuals, making it difficult to breathe when exercising on sidewalks—and even up to 50 feet away from the road. Avoid contact with outdoor pollutants (near busy roads, for example) by exercising at low-traffic times and locations or exercising indoors.
  • If you're allergic to pollen and want to exercise outdoors, plan your workouts for times when pollen counts are lowest. They tend to peak between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., so skip an early morning workout in favor of an afternoon or evening exercise session.
  • If your seasonal allergies are severe, you may need to limit your outdoor workouts completely—especially when pollen counts are at their peak levels.
  • Remember that outdoor allergens like pollen can travel several miles. Although you may feel better when exercising further away from allergens like grass and trees, you may still exhibit allergy symptoms while on a tennis court, an asphalt track, or even at the beach.
  • To prevent itchy, watery eyes when outdoors, wear wrap-around sunglasses to prevent allergens and wind from compounding the problem.
  • Consider wearing a paper face mask to filter out allergens while you breathe heavily during exercise.
After Your Workout
  • Spend at least 5 minutes to properly cool down. And don't forget to stretch!
  • If you exercised outdoors, change you clothes (preferably outside to keep allergens on your clothes out of the house), and shower as soon as possible to remove allergens from your skin and hair.
  • Keep windows closed and use the air conditioner to clear the air even more.
  • Consider using a nasal spray (saline) to clear allergens from your nose.
Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. While allergies may be a nuisance, there are lots of options for working your workouts around your symptoms. In fact, a good workout may even help reduce your allergy symptoms. Your body produces extra adrenalin during exercise, which benefits the body by lowering your allergic response (temporarily). This means that exposure to outdoor allergens while you are working out might not result in a reaction. But once that workout is over (and adrenalin levels return to normal), allergy symptoms are more likely to flare up.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • TALASBFF
    This is going to sound crazy but I started using nasal filters. I had heard about them and researched them online. The ones I got are called WoodyNose but there are others. It takes a few days to get accustomed but I can go out now and no sinus headaches! - 7/7/2014 9:29:49 PM
  • 4++ dust allergy and a 4++ pollen allergy. I have to exercise inoutdoors lol

    A lot of other good suggestions though. - 3/26/2014 11:41:19 AM
  • I just use my inhaler before every run (indoor and outdoor, because my seasonal allergies are year-round and indoor/outdoor) and bring lots of tissues in my spi belt. - 3/25/2014 7:41:57 PM
  • EMILYSBEEE
    The only problem is that some of us have indoor and outdoor allergies. Simply switching locations doesn't always help. But this article has a lot of good tips I hadn't thought of! - 10/23/2013 2:08:41 PM
  • Great article. - 7/19/2013 4:12:44 PM
  • CIRANDELLA
    When my nose runs, I catch it - sometimes, I burn quite a few calories that way!
    - 3/17/2013 9:59:21 PM
  • You should add giving up dairy products as a way to help reducing the affects of allergies. My allergies are very severe and this is one thing that has really helped me. Dairy products increase mucous production in the body, and if you've got allergies that's the one thing you don't need more of! I gave up dairy a year ago, and while my allergies didn't vanish, I had fewer really BAD days, and they were less severe. To me, that's a serious win! - 2/22/2012 2:07:41 PM
  • Somedays, mine are so bad that I drip almost continuously which makes it hard to workout at the Y. If I take an antihistamine to dry things up, I then don't sweat so it's a lose-lose situation. - 7/16/2011 9:34:16 AM
  • i'm so miserable! i also spent a day riding bikes in the park, and on the way home i started sneezing and could not stop. I have been exercising indoors since then and it seems to help. It's hard to get motivated to workout when you feel awful, but I'm always glad I did. - 4/27/2010 9:46:20 AM
  • Aw yes, too little too late. I took a bike ride last week when tree pollens were off the charts and started a nasty bout with asthma. Tues. laryngitis, Wed. doc and then on to steroids and cough syrup (sleep blessed sleep). Thurs better but no exercise until today. Yesterday, allergist and a readjustment of meds and some helpful advice. Putting my nebulizer to work again and am breathing a lot better. Take care of yourself and you can exercise AND breathe. - 3/2/2010 11:16:04 AM
  • I find that working out helps lessen the symptoms of my seasonal allergies. Once I get moving, I'm good. When I stop, though, the symptoms come back full-force. - 3/1/2010 7:35:15 PM
  • I use a low pressure sinus rinse kit. It is the same idea as a Neti Pot, but it is my opinion it works even better! - 8/9/2008 11:31:59 PM
  • I use a low pressure sinus rinse kit. It is the same idea as a Neti Pot, but it is my opinion it works even better! - 8/9/2008 11:31:32 PM
  • Great article!! Another good thing to do is use a Neti pot to help keep your sinuses clear. I have been doing this since April and am happy to say that I am symptom free from my problems that I would get. Also, watch what you eat as foods trigger the symptoms too. - 7/6/2008 7:28:59 AM
  • Great article. - 6/3/2008 12:48:26 AM
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