With spring nearly upon us, and warmer weather not far behind,
you probably can't wait to convert your stuffy indoor fitness routine into
breezy outdoor fun. Even if you've never exercised before, adding physical
activity to your life can seem a lot more appealing when Mother Nature is your
Unfortunately, if you're one of the tens of thousands who also
suffer with seasonal allergies sometimes called "hay fever "just the
thought of doing anything in the pollen-rich spring and summer air can set your
sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, and itchy watery eyes in motion.
If you have allergies, you might feel like outdoor exercise detracts from your health more than it adds. Exercise is supposed to make you feel good. But if a quick jog or a bike ride leaves you wheezing, sneezing, and feeling miserable for hours afterwards, how healthy can it be?
But all of us -- allergic or not -- need to exercise regularly for our overall health. And the good news is that you can, even if you're exposed to outdoor allergens.
"People with allergies and asthma should be able to...
If this is the case for you, don't despair. Allergists say you
can safely turn your exercise routines "inside-out" -- without
sacrificing allergy relief. The first rule of seasonal survival: Avoid
activities that increase the impact of a high pollen count.
"Any exercise that involves a high degree of movement and
significantly increases your respiratory rate could cause problems," says
Chicago allergist Brian Smart, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of
Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).
That's because the faster you move through air, says Smart, the
more airborne pollens and mold spores strike your face, and are inhaled -- and
ultimately the greater your chance of an allergic reaction. The activities to
avoid -- particularly on days when the pollen count is high and symptoms are
flaring -- include running, jogging, biking, or team ball sports.
"Workouts that are a lot more" allergy friendly"
include yoga, swimming, Tai Chi, stretching, weight training -- activities
which don't involve a lot of huffing and puffing," says allergist Gillian
Shepherd, MD, professor of medicine at Weil Medical College of Cornell
If, in fact, you just can't live without your daily run
or bike ride, Smart tells WebMD to plan workouts when pollen counts are at
their lowest. Pollen concentrations are usually highest between 5 a.m. and 10
a.m., according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Weather Is Key
The pollen seasons for particular plants are very consistent
within each geographical region. Weather plays a large role in determining what
the pollen count will be, both seasonally and daily. A change in temperature,
wind conditions, humidity, or precipitation can change the pollen counts.
Usually, pollen counts are highest on warm, dry, and breezy
mornings and lowest on rainy, cooler days. The severity of your allergic
reaction will generally mirror the rise and fall of the pollen count.
What can also make a difference is discovering your personal
pollen tolerance level -- the point at which your allergy symptoms kick
in. How can this help? Pollen counts are tabulated by the number of pollen
grains in a cubic meter of air. While experts say some people can be affected
when a tree pollen count is as low as 15 for example, others might not
experience symptoms until the count hits 1,500 or above.