Allergies & Exercise
This is the time of year Mother Nature smiles down upon us with warmer temps and spring breezes. That makes it the perfect time to move your indoor fitness routine outside. If you’re just getting started on a workout program, adding some outdoor activity to your daily routine can be a great way to ease into a routine.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me and the thousands of other allergy sufferers around the country, the outdoor activity can trigger more than an endorphin rush. Instead, you can find yourself sneezing, coughing or wheezing and trying to find relief for those itchy eyes.
I don’t have to hear the numbers on the news to know the tree pollen count is off the charts. Since everything isn’t concrete and steel here in the Big Apple, the lovely breezes are doing a great job spreading pollen around from the trees in my neighborhood and nearby Central Park. I’ve continued my daily 30-block morning walk to the office, but I usually arrive with swollen, red eyes and the sensation that there is cotton stuck in my throat. So, I thought it was a good time to offer some of my allergy-season survival tips that help keep me in motion.
- Take note of the time: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will help.
- Wear sunglasses: You can create at least a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for a long period of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.
- Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for several years when I was a kid. They helped make my acute reactions less severe over time, but I still battle through hay fever season every year. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I don’t like to take a lot of medicine, but as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather take something for a few months that will keep me from scratching my eyes out!) Talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication an hour before your outdoor workout. If you get out of bed and head outdoors immediately, ask your doctor if you can take your medication before bed so it’s in your system when you head outside.
- Clean up: Get out of those sweaty and pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible following an outdoor workout. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. (You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.)
Probably the best advice I can offer is this: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in a Zumba DVD in at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!