Pollen Proof Outdoor Exercises
Allergies can make even limited outdoor activities difficult. The itching, irritated eyes, sneezing and sniffling can sabotage the best of intentions. If you suffer from allergies, you can still enjoy the great outdoors, you've just got to be prepared. Here are several ways to keep exercising outside even if you have allergies.
Learn what you're allergic to. Start with a visit to a board-certified allergist. Once you know what's causing your symptoms, you can avoid places with the highest concentrations.
Track the problem. Organizations like the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology give pollen counts and mold across the country. You can sign up for text alerts on pollen levels or download a smartphone app that gives you daily updates.
Exercise when pollen counts are lowest for your particular allergen. Early in the morning or late in the evening are considered optimal times to exercise outdoors if you're allergic to ragweed. It's at the highest levels around noon and the early afternoon. Other allergens spike between five and ten in the morning and again at dusk. Plan on being outside when the things you're sensitive to are at their lowest number.
Check the weather. Pollen counts increase on warm, dry, breezy days. Breathing can also be more difficult when the humidity is high. Rain and low temperatures keep the pollen count down. Just be careful not to exercise during a rainstorm, or you may experience something called "thunderclap asthma." While it's raining, the water saturates and fractures the pollen, releasing particles in the air at much higher concentrations. Wait until an hour after the storm for things to settle down.
Avoid other pollutants. Exhaust from vehicles, smog and man-made pollutants may make allergens more potent. Some studies show things like diesel particles can attach to allergens and amplify their damaging effects. Avoid exercising outside when ozone levels are high. Try not to run on the side of busy roads.
Protect yourself. Wear goggles to keep pollen out of your eyes. Use a microfiber mask or bandana to cover your nose and mouth. It might be difficult to convince a child to wear those around their friends, but if you don't mind the stares they can help.
Skip hair products. Gel, hair spray and mousse can all trap allergens when you're outside. Put on a hat to keep them off and protect yourself from the sun as well.
Rinse off when you go back inside. That means putting your clothes in the wash, cleaning your body off in the shower, even going so far as to rinse your nose with saline to remove lingering pollen. Don't forget to wash things like gloves and jackets. This step is more important if you have other allergy sufferers in the house, to prevent bringing the pollen inside to them. Your allergist can suggest sprays and drops that work best for your nose and eyes.
Start indoors if you're new to exercising. You want to learn proper movement and build up your fitness levels first, without adding the additional pressure of dealing with allergies. Once you've started to feel competent in your activities, you can move them outside.
Be consistent with your allergy medication. Nasal sprays can take 24 hours to fully kick in. If you're pressed for time, take drops or medication at least an hour before exercising, to give them time to work into your system. You should also avoid anything strenuous the first few hours after an allergy shot. High-intensity exercises can cause a rapid absorption of the shot, increasing the possibility of side effects.
Protect yourself against allergens in the home as well. Did you put that exercise bike in a moldy basement? Indoor pollutants can cause more problems and be in higher concentrations than what you find outside. Make sure the environment is clean and mold-free. If you're using an air conditioner, get one with a filter that doesn't bring outside pollution indoors.
You don't have to remain trapped inside. Try these suggestions and expand your exercise options.
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