Tips to Keep Allergies From Sabotaging Workouts
Spring has sprung! Now that the days are longer and getting warmer, the appeal to spend time outdoors is increasing. For the millions of Americans who suffer seasonal allergies, symptoms like sniffling, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes can ruin that afternoon walk or jog.
Nasal congestion can result in you breathing through your mouth. Unfortunately, this method is less efficient and prevents the filtering of pollutants and other allergens.
I know the idea of seeking comfort indoors has crossed your mind, but instead of hiding out at home, why not try these tips to keep allergies from ruining your outdoor workouts?
Identify Your Triggers
Not everyone is allergic to the same things or even have the same reactions. Seasonal allergies can look different for different people. Knowing what your triggers are will help you treat them properly. The beginning of the spring allergy season depends on where you live. That’s a reason to see your allergist to pinpoint when your symptoms might begin. Due to climate change, some regions like most of the southeast sees spring in January now. Speak to your allergist if over the counter medicines aren’t helping.
Check The Pollen Count
The pollen count is a measure of the pollen density in the air. The higher the pollen count, the more likely you are to experience allergy symptoms. A pollen count over 1,500 is considered high. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides real time pollen counts nationwide on its website.
The Las Vegas area boasts a robust menu of airborne allergens that wreak havoc on its residents, both new and seasoned. The dry climate makes allergies even worse thanks to our bodies not secreting as much mucus to naturally fend off allergens. Traditionally, Las Vegans suffer from high pollen counts from March through the end of May. Las Vegas has consistently been one of the fastest growing populations in the country. Due to the tremendous growth, many Nevadans suffer throughout the year due to pollen counts increasing in the valley.
If you get a little runny nose and sneezing, it may not be that important to check pollen counts before an outdoor workout, but if you get severe nasal congestion and asthma, it’s vital.
Switch Up Your Schedule
The pollen count is highest in the mornings, so working out between 5am. and 10am. could worsen your allergy symptoms. Moving your daily stroll or workout to later in the day, especially during the evenings is best. It can make it easier to breathe while you’re working up a sweat.
Remember to also check the day’s weather conditions before heading out. Windy, dry and clear days may allow more pollen to be blown around (and into your eyes and nose) than wet, rainy and cloudy days. Check out the daily pollen count and air pollution alerts to plan outdoor activities.
Adjust Your Route
When it comes to minimizing exposure to pollen, the location of your workout is just as important as the timing. Your allergies might be more severe in urban areas because both temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are higher in cities. This causes ragweed plants to grow faster, flower earlier and produce more pollen than ragweed in rural areas, according to research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The trees that most affect the Las Vegas area include mulberry, European olive, ash, pine, oak, elm, and maple. Pollen counts are also greater at higher elevations and in areas with abundant vegetation like parks and forests. In other words, suburban streets are the safest bet if you have severe allergies.
Pick The Right Workout
Think lower intensity exercises like outdoor yoga or a walk through the park are better options than more strenuous workouts like a bootcamp when pollen counts are high. On days when your allergy symptoms really flare up, consider heading to the gym. As awesome as it would be to enjoy the great outdoors, indoor exercise is definitely an option if you’re sneezing up a storm.
Keep It Clean
Wearing a hat and sunglasses can keep pollen from getting into your face and eyes; showering and washing your hair after outdoor exercise rinses off pollen and keeps you from sniffling and sneezing long after your workout ends. You can even try using a nasal saline spray to rinse the pollen from your nostrils.
Make sure to toss your workout gear in the wash once you get home. Research found washing laundry in hot water was most effective for removing allergens, including pollen. Of course don’t use hot water unless it’s safe for your clothing. You want to clean, not destroy them.
Get The Right Medicine
No one wants to spend months sniffling and sneezing. Before you reach for the nearest over-the-counter remedies, make an appointment with your doctor. There are several different medications to help manage your allergy symptoms.
Many allergists offer immunotherapy (shots, tablets or drops) to expose you to specific allergens in slowly increasing doses and allow your immune system to build up an immunity. It’s shown that doctors are able to reverse the allergic process in many patients with this type of therapy and they are then able to decrease or even stop their allergy medication.
With the right prescription and some preventive measures, you can enjoy outdoor workouts all season long.