Hayfever symptoms can make sticking to an exercise routine difficult, especially in spring and summer when pollen levels are usually at their highest. For many people with hayfever, running, walking or cycling outdoors in the early morning or evening can trigger uncomfortable symptoms including sneezing, a runny nose, and watery and stinging eyes. When these symptoms happen frequently or are relatively severe, they can make exercising outdoors unpleasant and put a stop to your routine. Fortunately there are ways you can minimise your symptoms in order to help you to stay fit throughout the worst of hayfever season.
Change your timing
The likelihood of developing hayfever symptoms can be related to how much pollen is in the air. Avoid exercising outdoors in the early morning or evening, as this is when pollen levels are at their highest. Working out during the middle of the day e.g. lunchtime, may help to prevent an allergy attack.
For many people with hayfever, exercising indoors is a great way to continue a fitness program while avoiding inconvenient symptoms at the same time. Staying inside minimises your exposure to allergy triggering pollen, especially in air conditioned environments such as gyms. Fun options include dance classes, yoga or pilates, indoor swimming, aerobics or a good old fashioned cardio and weights routine.
Take an oral antihistamine
If the above options aren’t suitable to you and you wish to continue exercising outdoors, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about an oral antihistamine medication. Treatment with a non‐sedating antihistamine medication, may help to control symptoms including sneezing and itchy eyes. In the case of severe or ongoing hayfever symptoms, a corticosteroid nasal spray may be used in conjunction with an oral antihistamine. Steroid nasal sprays act directly on the nasal mucosa to alleviate inflammation, which is the cause of nasal congestion and associated symptoms. If you feel your hayfever is severe we recommend discussing treatment options with your healthcare practitioner.
For more information, ASCIA website.
Reference: 1. The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy http://www.aaoallergy.org/patient-resources/patient-resourcestips-exercising-allergies/ (accessed 6 March 2018)