Allergy Season Fitness Survival Tips
Old Man Winter definitely hung around a lot longer than we wanted this year, but now that spring has sprung, so has another allergy season. During my morning walks to work, I notice more leaves popping up on the trees along my route and also filling the skyline of Central Park. That makes taking my daily dose of allergy medicine more important than ever.
Many doctors have predicted this one could be a real doozy here in the Northeast thanks to higher humidity levels created in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Despite the predictions, it’s still the perfect time to take your fitness routine out of the confines of concrete walls and head outside. Whether you’re just getting started on a fitness program or looking to add some variety to your current routine, adding some outdoor activity is a great way to spice things up.
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. So, I thought it was a good time to offer some of the allergy-season survival tips that 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 remaining tips will cut down on any discomfort.
- Wear sunglasses: Create a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for extended periods of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.
- Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for nearly five years when I was a kid. They helped my acute reactions become less severe over time, but I still battle through the spring hay fever season. 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 out of the year instead of constantly scratching at my eyes and sneezing at everyone who comes near me.) Before you take anything, be sure to talk to your doctor about what treatments will best alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of a full-blown allergy attack, I find it helps to take my meds 30-60 minutes hour before my outdoor workout. If you head outside as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, 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 certainly don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed. If you have a pet, remember, animal fur can also trap pollen, so you may want to bathe your four-legged friend a bit more often in the spring.
My last piece of advice for all you fellow allergy sufferers is the same I offer for almost every other fitness-related situation: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but only feeling miserable, 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 an exercise DVD to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!