The longer days of spring and amicable weather means we’re all inspired to head outside for a run — unless you suffer from hay fever. Then, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion can get in the way of what would otherwise be a good run.
Hay fever is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, 19.1 million Americans were diagnosed with hay fever. That number is up from two years prior when 11.1 million were diagnosed.
But there’s hope. We reached out to two medical professionals, Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams, board certified in family medicine and integrative medicine and the author of “Bodywise: Discovering Your Body’s Intelligence for Lifelong Health and Healing,” and Dr. Deborah Gentile, director of research, division of allergy, asthma and immunology at Pediatric Alliance in Pittsburgh, to learn how to best deal with pollen with just a few simple changes to your lifestyle.
Here are a few pre- and post- run tips to follow during allergy season to make running outdoors fun again.
AVOID RUNNING IN THE MORNINGS
Pollen counts are highest from 5 a.m.–10 a.m. and lowest on cool or rainy days. Not surprisingly, finding an indoor alternative on exceptionally windy days or on those days when mornings are your only option can help.
TUNE IN TO THE FORECAST
Check out the local weather or allergy websites like pollen.com to monitor pollen levels before heading out for your run. Generally, you can even sign up to receive emails with allergy forecasts and your area’s top allergens for the day so you can plan accordingly.
MIND YOUR EYES AND NOSE
Runners should try a saline nasal rinse to remove pollen from the nasal cavities and to act as a natural decongestant. If you have heavy allergies, consider wearing a bandana over your mouth to breathe in fewer irritants. Goggles or sunglasses can help remove the itchiness and redness.
CHANGE OUT OF YOUR RUNNING CLOTHES
After a run outside, limit ongoing exposure to allergens by changing out of your exercise clothes immediately when you get home. Even better, put those clothes right into the laundry to avoid spreading pollen around your home. Also: Be sure not to air-dry them outside.
Take a shower and wash hair right after you’ve been outside on a run to get rid of any extra pollens that may linger on your skin and hair.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
Instead of the hassle of shots, sublingual immunotherapy is an alternative way to treat allergies — and is something to discuss with your doctor. You start about four months before allergy season and then stop once pollen counts are down.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN