Exercising Safely with Allergies and Asthma

We are given a lot of advice these days on how to stay healthy with allergies and asthma. A top piece of advice we hear a lot is to stay indoors. Well, that is easier said than done, and for many of us, it takes our exercise away. There are some alternatives, whether it means taking some precautions or finding some alternate exercise methods. So what to do if you have allergies or asthma and also want to maintain your health and well being by exercising without jeopardizing your respiratory health due to asthma/ allergies?

First, check air quality and pollen count. If the air is OK and the pollen is low, you’re probably okay. If either is high, that’s where you may encounter some difficulty, but there are some things you can do.

• If the air is not of ideal quality, but you still have the need to get out, cover up. That means your face, especially nose and mouth. Though you may look a little suspicious, you’ll keep some of the harmful air out of your air passages.
• Wash your hands and face as soon as you finish to prevent rubbing anything into your eyes and to clean anything off.
• Wash your hair as soon as you can, that will wash off any pollen or residue that may bother you.
• If you have asthma, keep your inhaler and other meds on hand. You may need them. You can also premedicate with asthma or allergies. Just check with your doctor and make sure your medication is right for you. Many people with allergies take an antihistamine on a regular basis before going outside.
• Don’t hesitate to use an inhaler if needed while exercising. Teach your child the symptoms and what to do if he feels anything.
• Some people with asthma do very well with swimming in indoor pools. The high humidity helps the airways stay open. Some people, however, find they can’t tolerate the chemical levels in the pools or the mold that is sometimes in indoor facilities.
• If there is something else going on in your body, like a cold, don’t push your body. Stay out of exercise for a few days and let your body get better. Allergies and asthma can become exacerbated when the body’s resistance is down.
• Talk with your doctor about a good exercise plan. Most doctors should work with you on this and it is very rare that any will advise against any form of exercise.

For more information, see www.aanma.org.

– Heather Legg

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