Exercise With Allergies? Yes You Can!

Truly useful get-fit tips from our senior fitness editor
September 29, 2011

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Don’t let fall allergies force you into putting your outdoor workouts on hiatus. Steal these symptom-nixing tips from Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina-based allergist Neil Kao, MD, known to many as “The Allergy Dude.”

Don’t wait to take your meds
“Begin taking your allergy medications at the start of the season,” Kao advises. That way, your immune system won’t have a chance to become activated by all the stuff you’re allergic to. “Most people wait until they can’t stand the symptoms any longer,” he says. “By that time, it’s like the house is already completely on fire—and there’s little chance you’ll be able to save it.”

Check the pollen count
Although “there’s no best time of the day to avoid pollen,” Kao says, there is a best kind of weather: wet. “Rain removes pollen from the air, so the counts will be much lower for a day or two afterward.” In a dry spell? Check the local pollen count at the National Allergy Bureau’s website (pollen.aaaai.org); if it’s high, opt for some Wii time or hit the treadmill instead.

Do a quick change
Instead of tracking pollen all over the house, change your clothes and remove your shoes when you come inside, Kao says. “If you have time, consider taking a shower to wash the remaining pollen off your skin and hair,” he adds.

Wash it away
Next, do a saline nasal rinse and put some saline drops in your eyes. “Together, these act like a car wash, removing all of the accumulated pollen on the mucosal surfaces,” Kao says. “Those surfaces are what respond with allergic symptoms.”

Close the windows
Leave ‘em open and you’re practically inviting the pollen to come in—and that translates to exposure 24/7. You need a pollen-free place to work out (and, of course, live) on those high-count day. “Make sure what’s outside stays outside,” Kao says.

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