Tips for Working Out with Seasonal Allergies


Dealing with seasonal allergies can be a pain, and they can easily get in the way of your normal exercise routine. But having seasonal allergies doesn’t mean you need to give up working out entirely. With a bit of prep, you should be able to prevent your allergies from having minimal impact.

To get you started, here are some of the top tips from our experts for exercising with allergies.

Tips for Working Out with Seasonal Allergies

1. Know Your Allergy Triggers

An obvious starting point is to figure out what allergens set you off. For example, do all types of pollen affect you, or are some worse than others? Knowing this can help you know the best time of day to work out or whether it’s worth taking medication.

2. Watch the Weather

Warm, dry days are typically the worst for pollen, which is made even worse by wind. On the other hand, humid weather is worse for mold. This is why it’s useful to know which allergens affect you so you can adapt your exercise routine to the weather.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the best time to exercise outdoors is after it’s rained. This helps to clear the air of pollen and other allergens, hopefully meaning you should be able to breathe a bit easier.

3. Pick the Right Time of Day

If you want to exercise outdoors during allergy season, choosing the right time of day can help with managing your symptoms. Generally, the best time to exercise outdoors is early-to-mid morning, as this is when pollen counts are lowest.

Different plants’ pollen counts peak at different times throughout the day. For example, most trees and grass release pollen in the early afternoon, meaning their counts are highest in the late afternoon and early evening.

Another influencing factor is warm air currents, which lift pollen into the air throughout the day. Levels are highest between roughly 2pm and 9pm, so use this information to figure out when you should be exercising.

4. Think About Your Exercise Options

Switching up your workout routine can help you avoid the worst seasonal allergy triggers. It could be as simple as changing where you go for a run, or it could be something like changing your workout completely.

For example, if you usually run around your local park, consider going somewhere more urban. Doing cardio around a park full of grass and trees will inevitably set off allergy symptoms, so it’s worth avoiding if possible.

Similarly, think about staying away from grass-based sports entirely, such as soccer. The best option would be to switch to a manmade pitch, or to go for water-based sports like swimming instead.

You could also go in the opposite direction and opt for static or low-impact exercises that don’t work your body as hard. Some options include yoga, walking, hiking, and Pilates. While these might not give you the burn you’re looking for, they’re arguably better than suffering with allergies for the rest of the day!

5. Switch Up Your Kit

When exercising during allergy season, it’s worth adding some extra accessories to your normal kit. Specifically, you should invest in a hat and sunglasses – the wraparound kind is best.

A hat protects your head from the sun but also stops pollen and other allergens from landing in your hair. These can linger and continue to trigger your allergies, even after you’ve showered.

Similarly, sunglasses will help protect your eyes from direct contact with allergens. You’ll want them to be as snug as possible to prevent irritation. Ideally, you should clean both the glasses and hat after exercise to remove any rogue allergens.

6. Pay Attention to Your Body

Seasonal allergies hit everyone differently, and we all know our own limits. So, when running with allergies – or doing any other exercise for that matter – understand what your body is telling you.

Some tips include:

  • Consider not exercising outdoors if your allergies are already bad.
  • If you’re on medication, factor in any side effects, such as drowsiness, into your overall energy levels and workout routine.
  • Try to avoid pushing yourself too hard if your allergies lead to shortness of breath or other asthma-like symptoms.

Importantly, don’t be hard on yourself if you need to miss a day of working out because of your allergies. If you really don’t want to, stick to indoor, low-impact exercises like yoga.

7. Always Shower After Exercising

You probably already shower after working out, but it’s more important than ever during allergy season. A good, thorough shower can get rid of any stubborn pollen that might be stuck to your hair or skin.

Similarly, make sure you wash your clothes after exercising outdoors. A normal wash with standard laundry detergent is enough to remove allergens from your clothes. Make sure you leave your shoes outside though, they’re perfect for tracking pollen into your house.

8. Take Your Allergy Meds as Needed

If you take medication for your allergies, make sure you continue to do so. There are plenty of effective over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications out there, many of which don’t have side effects that’ll impact your workout routine.

Of course, if you’re on a type that makes you drowsy, factor this into your workout routine. The benefits of taking the meds massively outweigh the side effects, so you might just have to adjust your workout routine or timing to accommodate this.

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Work Out Indoors

While it might not be the same as your regular outdoor run, don’t underestimate the options you have for working out indoors. You could join a gym just over allergy season or switch to swimming in an indoor pool.

But if you can’t afford to join a gym, or you don’t want to, there are plenty of ways you can work out around your home. For example, you could do bodyweight exercises like pushups, situps, burpees, etc. If you like cardio, you could do stair runs, jogging on the stop, star jumps, and so on.

The bottom line is that working out at home can be a viable replacement if you suffer badly from allergies. While it might not give you the same level of workout, it’s certainly better than going outside and suffering for the rest of the day!

Does Exercise Help with Allergies?

Exercise can help with allergies, but the link is mainly indirect. It’s no secret that working out improves blood flow and heart health as well as immune function. These factors will all help your body improve its response to allergies, although you’ll obviously never cure the allergies themselves with exercise.

A 2012 study found that moderate levels of exercise helped reduce cytokine response in the nose. In simple terms, this means working out can help you feel less snotty and bunged up. Of course, you need to weigh up the benefit of working out against the potential for coming into contact with allergens.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, working out with allergies is possible. While you might need to make some temporary adjustments to your routine, doing so can help you manage your symptoms without completely giving up exercising.

Hopefully, the tips above will be enough to get you started. Don’t forget to start taking your meds a few weeks before the allergy season so you can continue working out once the pollen kicks in!

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