When you have allergies, even getting a little exercise outdoors can be a challenge. So before you head outside to get your sweat on, follow these tips to make your workout less itchy and sniffly.
1. Know Your Pollens
Experts use a number rating to tell you much pollen is in the air throughout the day. There are different readings for different types of pollens. A tree pollen level above 50 is high, for example, while one to 10 is considered low.
Check a web site that tracks pollen counts for trees, mold, weeds, and grass across the U.S. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's site does this, for example.
2. Watch the Clock
The pollen count is highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and again at dusk, so plan your workouts for other times of the day when pollen levels are lower. If you’re in an urban area, winds can bring the pollen in town so that levels peak around midday.
If you go out during high-pollen times, wear a face mask. As soon as you get home, rinse out your nose with saline to get rid of any grains inside. Some nose sprays will make it easier for you to exercise when pollen levels are high. Ask your allergist.
3. Watch the Sky
Avoid outdoor exercise on dry, warm, windy days, which bring the highest pollen levels.
Many types of the allergen cause eye problems, including a noncontagious form of "pinkeye" that causes itching, redness, and tearing.
High humidity can cause problems, too. If the air feels heavy, you may have a hard time breathing. The humidity also fuels mold growth, which can trigger symptoms for some people.
On the other hand, rain clears the air, making it a good time to go outdoors if you have allergies.
4. Pick the Right Exercise
Swimming is usually excellent for building up your lungs. Biking is also good. But chlorine from indoor pools can be irritating to some people, so use caution and leave the area if you have trouble breathing.
Running in cold weather also can trigger symptoms. Usually, it’s not a true allergy that causes these problems, but spasms in your airways. With proper treatment, you should be able to do any sport or activity without a problem. If not, you may need to take another look at your treatment plan.