Stop The Excuses!

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.

Exercise and allergies. It's OkAllergy 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 amount of time an allergen is in your system the smaller 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 other saline rinse, 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. For many with asthma, swimming provides excellent exercise. The warm, humid air surrounding a swimming pool will not tend to irritate the bronchial passages.

If you have dust mite allergies, you might be better off exercising outdoors or at a fitness center. Your dust mite populations are going to be lower outside than in your house. If you don’t like the idea of exercising outside, remember that most fitness centers or gyms do not have carpeting, have good cir flow, and are regularly cleaned which results in little dust settling in a gym. An extra benefit of exercising inside is that the temperature is regulated, no matter the season.

Speaking of seasons, 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 a rainfall will help you avoid airborne pollens. If you do exercise outdoors during pollen season, wear a mask that will filter out the pollens 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 pollens during your outdoor workout and you don’t want to spread these pollens 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 wear 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. Exhaust fumes can irritate nasal and bronchial passages and make breathing much more difficult.

Whether you are exercising inside or outside, it is important to stay properly hydrated. 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.

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 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



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