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Allergies Health Center

Exercise Outdoors -- Even With Allergies

Here's how to take your workout outside and stay free of allergy symptoms.
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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 experience problems.

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 again.

"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 locations wisely.

"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.

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