by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Exercise provides multiple benefits to allergy sufferers, beyond the ability to grab tissues quicker. Work out more and sneeze a little less …
When allergy misery strikes, you probably won’t feel like exercising. After all, your sinuses are getting enough activity. Motivate yourself anyway. A quick workout often helps alleviate allergy symptoms. You also will gain the perk of increased energy, unlike the drowsy side-effect of many allergy medications.
How It Helps
Research has proven the effectiveness of exercise to improve allergy symptoms. One study from Thailand monitored allergy sufferers who ran for 30 minutes. After running, sneezing, runny nose, nasal itching, and congestion decreased by over 70 percent. (Hey, that’s nothing to sneeze at!)
Some theorize cardio workouts calm inflammatory proteins in the nasal passages. Another theory focuses on increased blood flow that results during exercise, which allows allergens to move quickly from the body to be eliminate by the kidneys and skin. (Sweat out those allergens and toxins!) Sluggish blood flow allows allergens to remain longer in your system where they can increase tissue inflammation and trigger stronger symptoms.
A workout also helps with secondary symptoms brought on by allergies. Fatigue and irritability often occur. Congestion and sinus pressure can interfere with sleep. It also can leave you groggy from discomfort, decongestants, and lack of sleep. And there goes your sunny disposition. Exercise helps improve sleep quality, stamina, and mood—even when all that sniffling and sneezing has you drained.
Best Exercise for Allergy Sufferers
Go for moderate intensity with your allergy-busting workout. Overexertion may exacerbate symptoms rather than help them. If breathing is a struggle due to congestion, use a decongestant, antihistamine, or saline spray before you hit the Exercise Floor. For those with asthma, consider a preventative dose from your inhaler. Always have your rescue inhaler with you, especially during workouts.
The Aquatic Center is often welcome relief for allergy sufferers. Warm, humid air helps clear nasal passages and promotes nose-breathing. It’s great for clearing a stuffy nose. Nose-breathing filters air intake to stop additional allergens and irritants from entering the bronchial passages. It also helps prevent a sore throat when your mouth already may be dry from coughing and antihistamines.
Consider aquatic personal training and fitness classes. A quick rinse in the shower beforehand gets you pollen-free and powered up. And nothing clears the sinuses like a soak in the spa pool or visit to the sauna.
The Center’s clean, filtered environment allows workouts free from seasonal allergens, dust mites, insect bites, and pet dander. Regulated temperature reduces the allergic reactions common in extreme temperatures, such as anaphylaxis and asthmatic attacks. Like a mythical siren, springtime beckons us to the Great Outdoors. But, for a hypoallergenic workout that helps keep you sniffle-free, head to the Center.
The next time you’re experiencing an allergy attack, fight back with fitness.
“Run Away from Your Allergies,” by Julie Steward at menshealth.com
Underwater swim: flickr.com/photos/thebmxgirl/7736249514/