Yes, You Can Still Work Out Outside, Even If You Have Allergies — Here's How to Do It
If you prefer to exercise outdoors, but you're worried that it will only make your seasonal allergies worse, your fears aren't totally unfounded. After all, the more time you spend outside, the more likely you are to be exposed to allergens, whether you're most sensitive in the Spring, Summer, or Fall. Even worse, if your symptoms do flare up, it can make your workouts less effective.
"If you have allergies, you can have a harder time working out because your ability to breathe out of your nose and lungs is compromised due to inflammation that affects your airways," Payel Gupta, MD, a board-certified allergist and immunologist at ENT & Allergy Associates in New York City, told POPSUGAR. Still, exercising with allergies is possible. Here are three strategies for making it work.
Plan Your Workouts Carefully
"Pollen is less severe on rainy, cloudy, or windless days because pollen needs to move around in the air in order to get into our noses, eyes, and airways," Dr. Gupta explained. "On hot, dry, and windy days, your allergies might increase, so these are the days you might not want to work out outside."
Of course, pollen counts can vary even from one hour to the next. "The best times of day for low pollen counts — and therefore working out — are usually before dawn and in the late afternoon to early evening," she added. If you want to be certain, you can check the pollen count with a quick Google search before you head outdoors. "If it's a particularly high-pollen day, you might want to stay inside," Dr. Gupta said.
Take a Shower When You're Done
"When you do exercise outside, wash your hair at night to get rid of any pollen that might have gotten stuck to your hair," Dr. Gupta suggested. In fact, it's best to take a full shower after changing out of your workout clothes, in order to prevent transferring allergens to your sheets. Allergy symptoms are notoriously worse at night for this reason.
Know When to See a Doctor
If you're simply not finding relief — and it's getting in the way of your workouts — it may be time to talk to your doctor. "If your allergies are causing you to suffer, there are so many solutions out there," Dr. Gupta said. "Go see a doctor and get allergy testing to figure out which medications are right for you, especially if it's causing you any difficulty breathing."
Many experts recommend taking an over-the-counter antihistamine or nasal spray an hour before your workout, for example — but there are also eye drops or inhalers, which can help soothe itchy, watery eyes or inflamed airways. Your doctor can help you develop a plan to best manage your symptoms.