Tips for Running Outside During Allergy Season

Running on grass trail.Spring is finally here, and I’m ready to enjoy the nice weather with a run or bike ride outside. There’s only one problem—or maybe millions of tiny ones—pollen! If you have pollen allergies like I do, I’m sure you know how quickly a workout can be ruined by allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, or even shortness of breath.

You can do more than enjoy the view from inside the gym though, so lace up your running shoes and get outside! These tips can help you keep pollen allergy symptoms at bay while exercising outdoors:

  1. Know your triggers. Most runners and cyclists take regular routes. If you notice  your symptoms flaring up at certain points on your route, there may be a large concentration of trees or other plants producing pollens that aggravate your allergies. Take notice of the plants and trees around you, and discuss them with your doctor. An allergy test can also be helpful at determining precise triggers.  You may even consider altering your route.
  2. Check your local pollen counts. Don’t leave your outdoor workouts to chance. Local news channels and sites like provide pollen count updates and forecasts, so you can plan accordingly. For example, I have a pretty bad allergy to oak pollens. When tree pollen counts are high, I choose to run, swim, or spin indoors.
  3. Watch the clock. The time of day can play a role in allergy flare-ups. Pollen counts are often highest between 5 and 10 am. You may want to save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain, when pollen levels are lower.
  4. Protect your eyes and face. Sunglasses are not only great for protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, they can provide a necessary barrier between sensitive eyes and pollen. Although it’s not always possible, a light mask or bandanna can help prevent exposure to pollen and other pollutants.
  5. Don’t forget to shower. A relaxing shower is the perfect way to end a great workout, especially during pollen season. Showering can help rinse off pollen particles and other irritants you may have collected on the road. Your clothes probably collected a fair amount of pollen as well. Placing those in the laundry basket right after you work out can prevent spreading pollen throughout your home.

These are just a few tips to help you maintain your fitness routine despite the pollen onslaught. Are you a runner or cyclist with helpful tips for avoiding allergy flare-ups? Tell us about them in the comments. See you on the road!

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