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Diseases & Conditions

Sniffling and Sneezing During Exercise? Do This

By on 04/23/2021

Allergies don’t have to stop you from exercising outside or enjoying your favorite outdoor sport or activity this spring. Just follow these recommendations to help avoid allergy flare-ups while keeping up with your usual exercise routine.

  • Pay attention to the forecast. When allergen levels are high, it’s best to exercise indoors, so check the allergy forecast for your area. The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy recommends scheduling outdoor exercise during or after rain since rain stops pollen from blowing in the breeze, which may reduce symptoms.
  • Work out early or late in the day. Early morning or evening dew weighs down pollen, preventing it from swirling around in the air when you exercise. You’ll also typically enjoy cooler temperatures at these times of the day.
  • Avoid damp areas. If you are allergic to mold, exercise far from areas that tend to remain damp. Piles of leaves or yard debris trap moisture and provide the perfect environment for mold growth.
  • Match exercise to conditions. When allergen levels are high, change up your usual exercise routine. Golf and sports played on the grass may be out, but you can still swim or practice free throws on grass-free surfaces. If you find your allergies really flare up in certain conditions, switch to indoor workouts on those days. It’s best to avoid outdoor exercise if allergen levels are high, it’s windy or your allergies are already bothering you.
  • Put on a hat and sunglasses. Covering your head and eyes offers protection from the damaging effects of the sun and also keeps allergens from landing on your hair (where they can linger) or irritating your eyes. Wraparound sunglasses provide the most complete protection from allergens and the sun.
  • Hit the shower after exercising. Showering removes pollen and other allergens from your body and hair that may cause a post-exercise allergy attack. Allergens also collect on your clothing so washing exercise clothing and outerwear will help alleviate allergy symptoms. Since allergens often find their way inside homes by clinging to shoes, leave shoes outside or store them in a plastic bag.
  • Clear out your eyes and nose. Pollen, dust and other allergens enter your nose and eyes when you’re outside, triggering allergy symptoms. Once indoors, use saline solution to flush allergens from your nose and eye drops or saline eye rinses to clear allergens from your eyes.
  • Take allergy medication as recommended. Be sure to take over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication as recommended by your doctor. During allergy season, you may need to take allergy medicine every day to ease or prevent allergy symptoms. If your allergies are severe, it’s often best to start taking allergy medications a few weeks before the height of the season so they have time to work before allergen levels increase.
  • Be prepared for asthma flare-ups. Some people with asthma find allergies trigger an asthma attack, so take extra precautions if you’re exercising outdoors during allergy season. Know what to do if your asthma starts acting up and when to avoid outdoor exercise to prevent a flare-up in the first place.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 17, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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