Fitness experts share top tips for exercising outdoors if you suffer from hay fever

Business Insighhts

As temperatures increase and the days get brighter, more people will be looking to exercise outside. However, with pollen counts typically increasing at this time of year, hay fever sufferers may find exercising outdoors difficult.

With this in mind, a fitness equipment supplier has shared their top tips for exercising outdoors if you suffer from hay fever, including the best time of the day to work out if you want to reduce your symptoms.

Choose the right time of day

If you want to avoid being bombarded by pollen, the best time to exercise outdoors is between 4am and midday according to one study, which found this was when pollen levels tend to be at their lowest. Keeping an eye on the weather is also important, as it can impact your symptoms. Try to avoid working out outdoors when the weather is warm dry and windy, as these conditions allow pollen to circulate more easily. Instead consider going out after heavy rain, as the humidity that follows can help to keep pollen grains down, according to the AAFA.

Checking the pollen count before you head outdoors, can also help you decide whether it's worth braving a run, or whether it's best to stick to the gym for that day. Kleenex's Pollen Pal app is a great way to see the pollen forecast over the next five days, and to identify when pollen counts are likely to be highest in your area.

Opt for non-drowsy medications

If you decide to exercise outdoors, consider pharmaceutical intervention before leaving the house, to decrease the severity of hay fever symptoms later on. Look for over-the-counter medication that contain loratadine, cetirizine, acrivastine, or fexofenadine as these are considered non-drowsy antihistamines, according to the NHS.

Hay fever treatments containing chlorphenamine, cinnarizine, diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine or promethazine on the other hand, are likely make you feel drowsy and therefore not ideal if you want a productive workout.

Plan your journey

While it may sound obvious, try to avoid exercising in areas where flowers in in bloom, or where you will pass through grassy or heavily wooded areas. Instead try to exercise in urban areas if possible or near to a body of water, as pollen levels are typically lower here.

Wear the right clothing

Wearing appropriate clothing can also help with preventing the effects of pollen. Wraparound sunglasses can be helpful at shielding your eyes from pollen, whilst wearing a hat or cap can prevent pollen from sticking to your hair fibres. While it might seem extreme, if you severely suffer with pollen, wearing a face mask outdoors can filter and limit the amount of pollen you are being exposed to.

While you often can't cover up your nose entirely, applying a small amount of Vaseline around your nostrils can act as a barrier, trapping pollen and preventing it from entering your body.

Wash off pollen after exercising

Showering after a workout is commonplace but it is especially important after exercising outside if you suffer with allergies. Pollen can stick to your body and clothes, so ensuring that you shower and immediately wash your clothes after exercising outdoors, reduces how much enters your home.

If you still find that you are still suffering with symptoms, try using a nasal rinse with a saline solution to help to remove pollen particles from your nose. Nasal syringes and saline is available to buy over the counter at a pharmacy, but you can make your own solution yourself by following these steps:

  • In a clean pot, boil 1 litre of tap water on the hob for 5 minutes to eliminate any bacteria.

  • Add two teaspoons of non-iodized salt and one tablespoon of baking soda, stir, and allow to dissolve into the water.

  • Allow the solution to cool to room temperature before using with a nasal syringe.

A spokesperson for Mirafit commented:

"More than 10 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever and other pollen-related allergies. From a runny nose to itchy eyes, pollen allergies can disrupt our plans and cause discomfort.

"With many people already suffering with hay fever, knowing when the pollen count is at its highest and which areas of the UK are most affected is beneficial to maintaining our daily routines, including your daily workout.

"Grass pollen is the most common allergy in the UK, and this data shows that grass pollen levels are at their highest during June and July. With this information, individuals suffering from pollen allergies can adjust their workout regimes so that they can still enjoy exercising during allergy season."