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It can feel like time to exercise outdoors after a long winter indoors. But seasonal allergies can make outdoor exercise harder. Asthma, runny nose, and congestion are common symptoms.
Avoiding outdoor activity when there are high pollen counts can help. So can wearing a mask, lowering your workout intensity, and limiting gardening.
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Warmer spring weather can mean a shift to outdoor activities. But high pollen counts can make it tougher. Over 20 million Americans have seasonal allergies, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Here's what to know about exercising outdoors when pollen is in the air.
Seasonal allergies are known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, says Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can include sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose, and congestion. Mayo Clinic says allergic reactions to pollen can also cause symptoms of asthma. That's a problem if you're trying to exercise outside!
Getting Active Outdoors
But going outdoors for physical activity has so many benefits! You can read more about outdoor exercise benefits here.
Weather permitting, these are a few springtime outdoor activities.
Walking or running
Gardening and other yardwork or home improvement activities
But seasonal allergies can make you think twice before going out. It can be best to go when pollen counts are low, and to take other precautions.
The Air Quality Index is another indicator. It gives a color to show level of concern based on five types of air pollutants. Pollen is part of the group of pollutants called particulate matter. A green, or "Good," rating means the air is not risky. Very sensitive people may be at risk with a yellow, or "Moderate," rating. Orange, or "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups," and anything worse, may pose problems if the pollution is related to pollen in the air.
Outdoor Exercise Tips
Mayo Clinic has tips for being active outdoors if you are sensitive to pollen.
Wear a dust mask if you are going to be outdoors.
Disrupting plants can make pollen fly. It may be best to let others mow the lawn and pull weeds.
Put your workout clothes in the laundry as soon as you are done with them.
Take a shower as soon as you come inside. That can remove pollen that is sticking to skin and hair.
Follow any tips from your doctor, and take medications as prescribed.
Also, save highest-intensity activities for low-pollen days. Running and kickboxing, for example, make you breathe harder, which can make symptoms worse.
More Ways to Avoid Pollen
It's safest to avoid outdoor exercise when pollen levels are high according to local reports and forecasts. These are some more patterns for pollen levels.
Pollen levels may be at harmful levels more often in urban areas than rural areas, according to the CDC and research published in Allergo Journal.
Pollen counts can change through the day, so keep checking back.
You can limit exposure to pollen at other times, too. The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy says to close windows while indoors. An air purifier with a HEPA filter, and a humidifier, can also help.
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