Posted by Nicole on June 22
Do you suffer from seasonal allergies outdoors? If so, it can make you feel like shutting yourself indoors instead of going out to exercise and have fun. But it is vital to exercise for your health, and fresh air and a good time are important too.
You do not have to give up on your outdoor activities because of your allergies. Here are some tips that can help you minimize your symptoms and have a safe and healthy time outside during allergy season.
1. Check pollen counts before going out.
Just as you can check the weather forecast for information about temperatures, humidity, wind, and so forth, you can also check pollen count data for your area before you head outdoors. Get to know what high, medium, and low pollen counts for your area are, and try and save your outdoor activities for days with low pollen counts.
2. Look for patterns in the timing of your allergy attacks.
Is there a particular time of day that is ideal for outdoor activities with allergies? WebMD quotes Jay M. Portnoy MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI.), as saying, “If you can, exercise in the morning or late in the evening. Most pollens reach peak levels around noon or early afternoon."
But WebMD also quotes Hugh H. Windom MD, associate clinical professor of immunology at the University of South Florida, as saying, “The studies supporting that haven't been very good. I think it's more of an old wives' tale."
With that contradictory information, what might make more sense would simply be to observe the timing of your own individual allergy attacks. If you keep notes from day to day, you might discover that your allergies tend to flare at a particular time of day.
If you can identify that time of day, then you can simply avoid doing outdoor activities at that time. Instead, try and schedule them for when you feel better.
3. Avoid dense urban areas.
While you might picture the worst place to be hanging out with allergies is in the middle of a forest or Meadow full of pollen, it is important to remember that pollution can also cause problems. In fact, you might want to avoid dense urban areas, especially if they are clogged with vehicle traffic. Pollen can actually cling to diesel emissions.
4. Watch out for high wind, dryness, heat or humidity.
While you are checking the pollen counts, you should also take a look at the weather forecast itself. Extremely dry or humid conditions can exacerbate seasonal allergies, as can high heat or wind.
If there is any way you can avoid exposing yourself to these conditions, it should help you with your allergies. If you see any days on the forecast that are cooler and calmer, those are better days to be outdoors.
5. Get a rain jacket.
Just as cool temperatures may help to dampen allergies, the same may be true of rainy days. So, although you might not traditionally consider a rainy day ideal for outdoor activities, if you have allergies, it might be. So, this is a good time to invest in a rain jacket or umbrella.
6. Do not tax yourself too hard.
Naturally, you do not want your allergies to get in the way of what you enjoy doing. But you should resist the feeling that you need to push yourself constantly.
Sometimes, it is just not worth it to expose yourself. If you are already feeling overwhelmed by your allergies, consider doing some indoor activities instead. Give your body and mind a break. There will be other opportunities for outdoor activities in the future.
7. Consider a mask and/or goggles.
In the past, the suggestion that you do your outdoor activities while wearing a mask or goggles might have seemed extreme. But in our COVID era, nobody is likely to even look at you twice if you are masking up outdoors.
But is it safe to wear a mask while exercising? According to the Global Health & Fitness Association, yes—so long as you do not overdo it. The site explains, “Mayo Clinic and University of Maryland Medical Center advise that face coverings are safe, though considerations on exercise intensity may be required.”
The site points out that individual factors impact safety. The organization adds, “It is important to note that people will react to exercise while wearing a face covering differently. A very active older person may be able to sustain an hour of running in a mask, while a younger person with asthma may not be able to tolerate wearing one at all, even at rest.”
So, consider taking this measure if you feel it will be safe given your individual health profile and fitness level. While it may not be the most comfortable way to be outdoors, neither is suffering from your allergies any more than necessary.
Indeed, you might not even need to wear the mask or goggles the entire time you are doing your outdoor activity. You might just need to wear either or both in certain locations or during certain times of day.
8. Rinse off when you are done and switch to different clothes.
One more thing that may make your life more pleasant with allergies and outdoor activities is what you can do afterward.
Chances are good there is a fair amount of pollen clinging to your clothes when you come indoors. You might also have pollen attached to your skin and hair. So, think about taking a shower, and throwing the clothes you wore outdoors in the laundry. Will the effect be dramatic? Probably not, but anything helps, right?
Now you have some ideas that might help you enjoy exercising and other outdoor activities more when you have seasonal allergies.
While seasonal allergies can be frustrating, you may be surprised what a difference a few simple changes in your routines and plans can make.