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...
Dry, windy days. Wind blows pollen into the air, increasing hay fever symptoms. If you have pollen allergies, shut the windows and stay indoors on windy days.
Rainy or humid days. Moisture makes mold grow, both inside and out. Dust mites also thrive in humid air. However, if you're allergic to pollen, humid or damp days are good. The moisture weighs down the pollen, keeping it on the ground.
Cold air. Many people with allergic asthma find cold air a trigger -- especially when exercising outside. It shocks the airways, causing a coughing fit.
Heat. Air pollution is worst on hot summer days. Ozone and smog in the air can be a serious trigger for people with allergic asthma.
The change of seasons also has a big effect on allergies.
Spring. In cooler states, plants start to release pollens in February or March. Tree pollens are a common spring trigger for people with allergies.
Summer. Early in summer, grass pollen can trigger symptoms. Later in the summer, ragweed and other weeds can become a problem. Mold can hit its peak in July in the warmer states.
Fall. Ragweed season usually ends with the first frost in October. In colder states, mold tends to be worst in October.
Winter. Indoor allergens -- like pet dander and dust mites -- can become more a problem in winter. Why? When it's cold out, you spend more time indoors.
Weather and Allergies: What Can You Do?
Unless you're prepared to settle down in a bunker, there's no way to avoid the weather. But you can work around it -- and reduce your allergy symptoms.
Pay attention to weather. If you notice that certain conditions trigger symptoms, watch out for them. Check local pollen and mold counts. Watch for Ozone Action Days. Reduce time outside when you're likely to have problems.
Prepare for allergies. If you have a predictable allergy at a certain time of year -- ragweed in the fall, or tree pollen in the spring -- get ahead of it. Ask your doctor if you can start taking allergy drugs about two weeks before you usually start having symptoms. That way, you can keep the symptoms from starting. It’s better than waiting until they start.
Control your environment. You can't change what's happening outside, but you do have some control over conditions in your house. Use air-conditioning to filter out mold and pollen. Use a dehumidifier to discourage mold growth and dust mites.
Get treatment. Talk to your doctor about your options, like drugs and allergy shots. They can help keep your allergies under control, no matter what the weather or the season.