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Exercise & Allergies: 8 Tips to Stop Sniffling & Sneezing

woman riding bike during allergy season

Seasonal allergies don’t have to stop your exercise routine or your favorite outdoor sport or activity this spring. Just follow these recommendations to help avoid allergy flare-ups while keeping up with your usual exercise routine.

Don't Let Allergies Win

These eight tips help you exercise more comfortably during allergy season.

Pay Attention to the Forecast

When allergen levels are high, it’s best to exercise indoors. Before heading out, check the allergy forecast for your area.

The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy recommends scheduling outdoor exercise during or after it rains. Rain washes away pollen from lawns, streets, driveways, and other surfaces. Rain also stops pollen from blowing in the breeze, which may reduce symptoms.

Websites such as weather.com and pollen.com offer information on common allergens, including pollen, ragweed, and mold.

Work Out Early or Late in the Day

Early morning or evening dew weighs down pollen, preventing it from swirling around in the air when you exercise. You’ll also enjoy cooler temperatures when you exercise early or late in the day.

Avoid Damp Areas

If you're allergic to mold, exercise far from areas that tend to remain damp. Piles of leaves or yard debris trap moisture and provide the perfect environment for mold growth.

Match Exercise to Conditions

When allergen levels are high, change up your usual exercise routine. Golf and sports played on the grass may be out, but you can still swim or practice free throws on grass-free surfaces.

If you find your allergies really flare up in certain conditions, switch to indoor workouts on those days. It’s best to avoid outdoor exercise if:

Put on a Hat and Sunglasses

Covering your head and eyes offers protection from the damaging effects of the sun and also keeps allergens from landing on your hair (where they can linger) or irritating your eyes. Wraparound sunglasses provide the most protection from allergens and the sun.

Hit the Shower After Exercising

Showering removes pollen and other allergens from your body and hair that may cause a post-exercise allergy attack. Allergens also collect on your clothing, so washing exercise clothing and outerwear will help alleviate allergy symptoms.

Since allergens often find their way inside homes by clinging to shoes, leave shoes outside or store them in a plastic bag.

Struggling With Allergies?

Many things can cause allergies. Talk with a specialist and get tested if you're struggling with symptoms.

Clear Out Your Eyes and Nose

Pollen, dust, and other allergens enter your nose and eyes when you’re outside, triggering allergy symptoms. Once indoors, use saline solution to flush allergens from your nose and eye drops or saline eye rinses to clear allergens from your eyes.

Take Allergy Medication as Recommended

Be sure to take over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication as recommended by your doctor. During allergy season, you may need to take allergy medicine every day to ease or prevent allergy symptoms.

If your allergies are severe, it’s often best to start taking allergy medications a few weeks before the height of the season. This gives them time to work before allergen levels increase.

Be Prepared for Asthma Flare-ups

Some people with asthma find allergies trigger an asthma attack, so take extra precautions if you’re exercising outdoors during allergy season. Know what to do if your asthma starts acting up and when to avoid outdoor exercise to prevent a flare-up in the first place.

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