At last, summer is here and it makes you want to get outdoors and go for a run. But for fitness seekers who suffer from seasonal allergies, the balmy summer days can mean a blast of seasonal allergies.
Allergy symptoms are triggered by our own immune system’s effort to expel a foreign substance, such as pollen, dust or animal dander. When an allergen finds its way in to the body, special cells, called mast cells release histamine and other chemicals, which initiate reactions designed to dislodge the antigen, including sneezing, and watering of the eyes and nose. The symptoms of allergies, runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and sniffling, can make any allergy sufferer miserable. For me, the leading OTC non-drowsy allergy remedy, Claritin (loratidine), wasn’t non-drowsy. It was sleep-inducing. And Zyrtec (cetirizine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) were even worse for me, causing a brain-fog that made it difficult to function during the day. So began my quest for alternative remedies for seasonal allergies. Here are some all-natural allergy strategies that can help keep your fitness program on track.
Timing Your Workout
Get familiar with the local daily pollen counts and make a note of the days when you experience allergy symptoms. Then armed with that knowledge, along with the daily pollen counts, you can plan outdoor activities when and where you are least likely to experience allergy problems. Consider indoor fitness activities (swimming, Tai Chi or weight training) when pollen counts are at the highest. You’re more prone to allergy woes if you’re stressed or jet lagged, because a weakened immune system is more sensitive to allergens. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pollen counts are highest from before sunrise and until late morning. Adjust the timing of your outdoor exercise routine and try to avoid strenuous activity between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wrap around sunglasses can help shield your eyes from allergens. Summer rainstorms can lower the levels of pollen in the air. Cooler, wetter weather lowers pollen counts, too.
Breathe In Through the Nose
Breathe in through the nose as much as possible. Your nasal passages filter, moisten and warm the air you breathe. Of course there can be times where your instinct will be to inhale through your nose and mouth, but it’s still a good practice to favor your nose when you inhale. You don’t need to entirely avoid breathing through your mouth. Nose inhalation tends to promote healthy breathing and slower and deeper breaths.
Minimize Post-exercise Allergies
After getting home from outdoor exercise, take a shower, wash your hair and change clothes. You’ll be washing away the allergens that have clung to your clothing or hair during outdoor exercise. Shutting windows, running the air conditioning and using a Neti pot to flush the nose with saline solution, can clear the nasal passages of any remaining allergens.