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Allergies can limit outdoor exercise

By Andrea Renee Wyatt, M.S.S., C.S.C.S.

Q: With the weather warming up, I would like to start exercising outdoors, but I suffer from seasonal allergies. I take medication for my allergies, but I don't exercise as hard because I don't want my allergies to flare up. What type of activities would allow me to move my exercise routine outside?

A: According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, you are one of more than 35 million people in the United States who suffer from seasonal allergies. There are ways to exercise outdoors with seasonal allergies, but you'll need to be aware of outdoor situations and listen to your body's response.

Consult an allergist or immunologist and work with them on developing a management plan to help control your allergies throughout the year. If you are beginning to exercise outdoors for the first time after begin diagnosed with allergies, discuss with your physicians any modifications you may need to make with medications or treatments.

The AAAAI recommends taking the following precautions before heading outdoors to exercise:

Check the pollen count. The National Allergy Bureau ( is a service that compiles the pollen and mold counts each week and reports them to local media for everyone to access. Stay indoors when high pollen counts are reported.

Minimize outdoor activity during peak pollen times, usually between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Exercise should be done during low-count times.

On days with a projected high pollen count or high humidity, or on hot and windy days when dust and pollen are blown around, it is recommended that you stay inside.

Take medications at least 30 minutes prior to outdoor activity.

Remember to warm up and start slowly. Allow your body time to adjust to the pollen in the air, and recognize symptoms that may cause your condition to worsen.

Drink plenty of fluids and take breaks when necessary, and cool down after your activity is complete.

On higher pollen-count days, complete less-strenuous aerobic exercise or choose an environment with less exposure to pollen. Activities such as tennis, basketball, cycling and jogging/running can be completed on hard surfaces such as asphalt that won't expose your shoes and body to the pollen kicked up while exercising in grass.

Once your activity is complete, take shoes and outer layers of clothing off outside to limit the amount of pollen you bring indoors.

Always consult a physician before beginning an exercise program. If you have a fitness or training question, e-mail Andrea at or write her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

(c) 2006 King Features Synd., Inc.