You Can Exercise if You Have Allergies

You Can Exercise if You Have Allergies

Have you ever uses your allergies as an excuse not to exercise? “My allergies are so bad today, I just don’t have the energy”, or “I only feel worse after I exercise outdoors, it is not worth it”. Allergies should not be a reason not to exercise. Even if you have asthma, you can exercise. You just have to find the right setting and the right exercise and properly prepare. 

Allergy is an immune system disorder. Anything that has a positive or negative impact on your immune system will have a corresponding effect on your allergies. Actions you take to promote good health are actions that will be good for your allergies. Just like a good diet, regular exercise will promote well-being and increase circulation. 

This increased circulation will result in mast cells and t-cells that can move much more easily and work more efficiently. It also means that allergens will also move more quickly through the system and can be more rapidly eliminated through the skin or kidneys. The smaller the amount of time an allergen is in your system the smaller the amount of time it can cause cellular inflammation. 

Researchers in Thailand discovered that running for 30 minutes decreased symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion in 70% of the subjects they studied. 

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) recommends that you discuss your exercise plans with your physician. They may recommend that you take medication before exercise (such as an antihistamine) or use your inhaler if you have asthma. In addition, make sure your nasal passages are clear before exercising.

Whether you are taking medication as prescribed or use a neti pot or a nasal sinus irrigation system, you want to make sure that your breathing is unrestricted and that your nasal passages are able to filter air as intended. 

The ACAAI also recommends that you avoid exercising in cold dry air if you have asthma. If you exercise outdoors in cold weather, wearing a mask or other face-covering will allow the air to be warmed before it is inhaled.

Indoor Exercise

Most fitness centers or gyms do not have carpeting, have good airflow, and are regularly cleaned which results in little dust settling in the gym. An extra benefit of exercising inside is that the temperature is regulated, no matter the season. 

Because of COVID and the fires in the Western states many people find that they are not getting the exercise they did before it all started. Remember you can get exercise plenty of at home.

If you don’t like the idea of exercising outside and prefer treadmills, exercise bikes, BOSU balls, kettle bells and rubber mats remember that many may have been manufactured with latex. If you have a latex allergy you may develop a rash or hives. 

As mentioned earlier, your gym does a great job of keeping the equipment and facility clean. The only downside is that for some the disinfectant wipes and sprays they use can contain VOC's which can cause an asthma attack or skin irritation. 

For many with asthma, swimming provides excellent exercise. The warm, humid air surrounding a swimming pool will not tend to irritate the bronchial passages. 

Outdoor Exercise 

If you suffer from seasonal allergies you should avoid exercising outside when pollen counts are high. This is most often early in the morning. Exercising outdoors after rainfall will help you avoid airborne pollen. If you do exercise outdoors during pollen season, wear a mask that will filter out the pollen but not restrict your airflow. After your workout, come indoors and go straight to the bathroom to shower and change clothes. Your hair, skin and clothing will collect pollen during your outdoor workout and you don’t want to spread these pollen throughout your home. 

If you are allergic to bee or other insect stings and you exercise outside be sure to carry your Epi-pen with you. You should consider wearing an allergy identification bracelet or dog tag style necklace as well. 

Avoid exercising in high pollution areas, such as near factories and large, congested roadways. I'm always amazed at the number of people I see running or biking next to busy roads. Exhaust fumes can irritate nasal and bronchial passages and make breathing so much more difficult. 

Whether you are exercising inside or outside, it is important to stay properly hydrated. Staying hydrated while exercising is important because of the added sweat loss (compared to day-to-day activities like working at a desk or watching TV). Tossing back some pure H2O while working out can also help you fight fatigue and increase endurance. 

While this is true of anyone exercising, it is very important if you have allergies and take medication. Many allergy medications cause drying and this will be compounded by the fluid loss during vigorous exercise.

Keep in mind that dehydration can occur in virtually every physical activity scenario. It doesn't have to be hot. You don't have to have visible perspiration. You can become dehydrated in the water, at a pool or lake, or skiing on a winter day. 

In most instances, exercising with allergies is not a problem. However, exercise-induced anaphylaxis does exist. It is rare but life-threatening. It can occur by itself or concurrent with a food allergy.

Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis is not well understood. In these cases, ingesting the food alone or exercising alone does not cause the onset of symptoms but ingesting the food before exercise does. As soon as the exercise ceases, the symptoms cease as well. If you have exercise-induced anaphylaxis be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for exercising carefully. 

Don’t let allergies be your excuse not to exercise, make them your reason to exercise regularly. Your immune system will thank you for your efforts. 

Wishing you the best of health
The Allergy Store






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