More than 50 million Americans struggle with seasonal allergies each year. And sniffing, sneezing, and watery eyes are tough enough to deal with, let alone adding an outdoor workout into the mix.
But you don’t have to let pollen, ragweed, or grass derail your exercise routine! Check out our five tips for safely working out with spring allergies.
1. Pay attention to the pollen count.
The pollen count refers to the daily number of pollen particles per cubic meter of air. The higher the pollen count is, the worse your allergies are likely to be that day. Experts consider a low pollen count to be between 0 and 2.4, while 9.7 to 12 is high.
You should check the pollen count each day, especially if you get severe nasal congestion and exercise-induced asthma during allergy season. You’ll find pollen count updates on AAAAI.org (The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology) and Pollen.com.
Over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec (or their generic forms) can help you manage your allergies for outdoor exercise. But when the pollen count is high, you may want to play it safe and choose an indoor workout.
2. Keep an eye on the weather.
Pollen travels through the air more easily on dry or windy days than on wet or cloudy days. If you have allergies, the best time to exercise outside is during a rain shower, or right after it stops raining. Just make sure to dress appropriately if you run in the rain!
You might also want to aim for working out in the evenings or after work, since you’ll keep your skin safe by staying out of the sun when it’s strongest (midday, between 10am and 4pm). Plus, you’ll avoid peak pollen count times (mornings, between 5am and 10am).
And whether you’re expecting sunshine or clouds during your workout time, wearing sunglasses can help you keep pollen out of your eyes while exercising. You’ll also reduce glare, eye strain, and the risk of UV damage when you wear shades.
3. Think about where you’re exercising.
Many people don’t realize this, but outdoor exercise in urban areas can actually set off your allergies more than in rural areas. Carbon dioxide levels are higher in cities, which makes ragweed grow faster and produce more pollen than in the countryside.
Pollen counts are also worse at higher elevations and, not surprisingly, in plant-rich parks and forests. So if you have spring allergies, running on country roads, in a suburban neighborhood, or on an indoor track may be better options for you.
If you choose to exercise outdoors, try to stay away from anyone who’s mowing the lawn. Cutting grass can stir up pollen and mold, so do what you can to steer clear of running lawn mowers. Even just crossing the street can help you avoid that much more pollen!
4. Choose a low-intensity workout.
When your spring allergies are acting up — or if the pollen count is high — it’s no time for sprinting or doing a HIIT routine outside. That’s because cardio and high-impact movement can increase inflammation and blood flow, making allergy and asthma symptoms worse.
Instead, opt for a lower-intensity workout like outdoor yoga, biking, or walking in the park. These exercises will allow you to get moving without pushing yourself too hard on a high-pollen (and sneeze-inducing) day.
5. Exercise indoors at the Y!
Another tip for working out with spring allergies: Go to the gym! Your local YMCA is a great place to exercise indoors with spread-out group fitness classes and safe, clean equipment.
A few ways to work out at the Y include:
- Running on the track
- Lifting weights
- Taking the family for a swim
- Attending a group exercise class
- Trying a senior fitness program
- And more!
Don’t let allergies keep you from enjoying your workouts!
By following these tips for working out with spring allergies, you can move toward your fitness goals without letting allergens ruin the fun (and benefits) of exercising.
The Lafayette Family YMCA is a community dedicated to healthy living and social responsibility. For more fitness tips and to stay up to date about YMCA events, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.