As the days get shorter and the leaves start to turn, your allergy symptoms may worsen – especially if you are sensitive to grass pollen, ragweed, or mold, or the effects of rising temperatures and increased air pollution.
But don’t let fall allergies keep you from staying active. Although you can’t banish your fall allergies with exercise, a regular workout can help manage your symptoms.
According to Dr. Annie Chern, a primary care physician, faculty member at Stanford Health Care Family Medicine Residency Program, and Tivic Health medical advisory board member, “Increased blood flow from moderate exercise can help ‘flush’ inflammatory cytokines and more quickly decrease allergy symptoms. The constant movement of allergens through the bloodstream can reduce inflammation, which usually accompanies allergies.”
What types of exercise can help manage allergy symptoms?
Dr. Chern adds, “As a family doctor, I always encourage regular, moderate exercise – which has been shown to help with allergy and asthma symptoms. Exercises that promote regular deep breathing – such as yoga and Pilates – can strengthen lung capacity.
“I recommend moderate over intense exercise – the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that overdoing it on physical activity can actually make allergies and asthma worse. For instance, exercise can be a trigger for bronchospasm, especially for patients with exercise-induced asthma (EIA).”
What precautions can allergy sufferers take to manage their symptoms and still enjoy a good workout?
Here are a few recommendations from Dr. Chern:
- Select your environment carefully – if you are allergic to mold, stay away from lakes or damp outdoor places. If you have pollen allergies, check pollen counts in your area and try to avoid peak pollen periods.
- Don’t forget to warm up. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), warm-ups help reduce allergy symptoms. Just ten minutes of stretching and cardio warm-ups can provide significant benefits.
- Consider indoor exercises like swimming or weightlifting to avoid pollen exposure.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes against allergen exposure. And try wearing a mask to filter out allergens.
- If you work out at a gym, be mindful of potential irritants such as mold spores and chemicals from cleaning solutions that can trigger allergic reactions. Poor air filtration systems can also be a catalyst for your allergy symptoms.
- Stay hydrated while exercising and especially when taking allergy medication which can cause dry mouth, or if you’re breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.
- After exercising, a hot steamy shower or visit to a steam room will clear the sinuses and lungs. Follow with cooler water and breathe freely again.
- Use your medications as directed to help minimize symptoms – e.g., if you have pollen allergies, take your antihistamine before exercising outdoors; and if you have EIA, use your inhaler before exercise to avoid triggering an asthma attack.
If you’re sensitive to medications, consider ClearUP – a clinically proven, drug-free, non-invasive device that provides rapid relief of sinus pain, sinus headache, and congestion from allergies. It’s a new form of treatment that uses safe neuromodulation as a way to address patient needs.
Nearly 60 million people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies each year. With the right fitness program, you can continue to stay active and feel your best all year round.