Spring is here! Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, birds are chirping, temperatures are rising, and pollen is falling. The warm, sunny weather entices us to be outdoors, but as alluring as the weather is, it can provoke a miserable allergy attack. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the refreshing spring weather, but it does require a little more planning and precautions. Below are a few tips to help alleviate and possibly prevent allergies from interfering with your outdoor spring activities:
- Monitor the pollen count each day. Try not to exercise outside when the pollen is at its highest which is usually the early to mid-morning hours. Try switching to an evening workout or after a rain, which washes pollen out of the air.
- Be consistent with your allergy medication. If you are instructed to take as needed, take it at least an hour prior to your outdoor exercise session. If you have asthma, use your inhaler about 15 minutes before you exercise, and lengthen your warm-up period.
- Protect your head and face from collecting or ingesting pollen or dust. Place a light-weight face mask or a bandana over your nose and mouth, wear sunglasses that wrap-around your eyes to decrease the chance and the amount of pollen that gets into the eyes, and wear a hat so pollen does not settle in your hair.
- Make a habit of carrying a small, clean towel to wipe away sweat (and in the Spring, pollen) from your face and skin.
- Avoid sports or activities where you move quickly through the air such as biking, running (depending on your pace) and some team/ball sports. According to Brian Smart, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), "Any exercise that involves a high degree of movement and significantly increases your respiratory rate could cause problems." As you move fast through air, you are more susceptible to airborne pollens and mold spores striking your face and body which in turn increases the risk of an allergic reaction.
- Use a neti pot, which is a nasal irrigation technique, before and after exercising to clear and cleanse the nose of any dust, pollen, or mucus.
- Try to shower immediately after exercising outdoors to remove pollen from your body as fast as possible and place your clothes in the wash to rid them of pollen too.
- Pay close attention to your symptoms. If they get worse while exercising, slow down, or stop completely and consult with your physician.
Hopefully these strategies will enable you to enjoy being in the great outdoors rather than fearing your reaction to it.