By Bentz Tozer, Jr., B.S., CPT
Allergies can make you miserable. Itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, repeated sneezing and fatigue are common allergy symptoms. Recent studies have shown that regular exercise can help ease and manage these symptoms.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), allergens gather in stagnant, fixed positions in the body, causing inflammation that can destroy tissue. Exercise causes a strong blood flow, which moves the allergens through the blood stream quickly, preventing this inflammation and damage.
So, what types of exercise provide the most allergy relief?
The first thing to consider is the type of allergy you have. Someone who is allergic to pollen will most likely not enjoy a hike through grassy areas. Someone who is allergic to pet dander will be uncomfortable doing yoga with a friend who has pets.
Aquatic exercise is an ideal workout for nasal allergy sufferers. An indoor pool is an ideal workout on days when the pollen count is high. The warm, humid air will help clear your sinuses, making it easier to breathe. Also consider a racquetball game or running on a treadmill if being outside is making your allergies flair up.
Regular exercise strengthens and conditions your heart and lungs, which is beneficial to those who suffer from respiratory allergies. Yoga focuses on deep breathing, as does Pilates, so sign up for a class at your local studio. The AAAAI has found that exercise that requires short bursts of energy, like strength training or tennis, are less likely to trigger this type of allergy than steady-state exercise, such as running or basketball.
You should also pay attention to the weather and the time of day in order to keep allergy symptoms at bay. The pollen count is highest between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and also again at dusk, so plan your outdoor workout when pollen counts are lowest. Dry, windy days bring high pollen levels, so plan a strength-training or indoor pool workout for those days. High humidity can make breathing feel difficult. It also contributes to mold growth, so if you have a mold allergy, schedule your workout for a cooler time of day.
Be sure to also stay well-hydrated. Some allergy medicines can cause dry mouth, or if you are breathing through your mouth because your nose is stuffed up, your throat and bronchial passageways can become dry.
Be Well Tips
● Visit an allergist who can develop a treatment plan that can keep you exercising.
● Determine your allergy triggers.
● Be mindful of your surroundings.
● Check daily pollen and mold counts for your area.
● Remember your warmup.
● Stay hydrated.
● Meet with a personal trainer to customize a workout.