Exercise Outdoors -- Even With Allergies
Here's how to take your workout outside and stay free of allergy symptoms.
Weather Is Key continued...
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.
To discover what your personal tolerance level is, Shepherd
says monitor the pollen levels and keep track of the point at which you
begin to experience symptoms. Then use that information, along with daily
pollen counts, to plan activities when and where you are least likely to
Now if you're thinking that all you need do to eliminate
symptoms is choose a workout site that is void of grass and trees, guess
"Pollen can travel miles, so theoretically you could jog on
the deck of a cruise ship and still have pollen symptoms," says allergist
Kathleen Sheerin, MD, head of the Public Education committee of the AAAAI.
That said, allergist Christopher Randolph, MD, tells WebMD that
the farther you are from the source of the pollen the better you are
likely to feel. So, while you may not be able to completely avoid allergic
symptoms, you can significantly cut down on the severity by choosing your
"An asphalt tennis court would be better than a
grassy terrain, while exercising on the beach may produce fewer symptoms than
working out in a heavily wooded area," says Randolph, associate clinical
professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.
Later Rather Than Sooner
Although exercising outdoors can increase your contact with
pollen, ironically, the extra adrenalin your body produces while you are
working out can temporarily dampen the allergic response. This, says Shepherd,
in combination with the actual time it takes for contact with pollen to incite
an allergic reaction -- about an hour -- means your worst symptoms might
not occur while you are exercising at all, but after you stop.