Kick Your Exercise Routine into High Gear
And Kick Your Allergy & Asthma Symptoms to the Curb
Each spring, many people renew their commitment to eat healthy and lose weight. After all, bathing suit season is right around the corner. But as health regimens kick into high gear, many people might find that instead of feeling good they are feeling worse. And the reason might be due to the one thing that should be helping: exercise.
“Not only can new workout routines be difficult for those with asthma, but several allergens can be found lurking in health clubs, making this healthy activity bothersome for the more than 40 million Americans that suffer from allergies,” says allergist Richard Weber, md, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “By understanding what triggers symptoms, those with allergies and asthma will be able to feel good and remain active.”
Don’t Overstep Your Boundaries
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and unusual fatigue, you might have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. The condition affects about 10 percent of Americans. Find relief by using your prescribed inhaler before you begin your workout routine. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can also help. Be sure to track your symptoms with the online journal MyEIBJournal.org.
If you’re allergic to pollen, grass, and other environmental factors, hit the ground running indoors.
Think Before You Eat
Whether you’ve signed up for a diet plan or are simply opting for foods with fewer calories, you should always read nutrition labels before consuming new items. Many products contain hidden food allergens, such as milk, wheat, and egg. Energy bars can also be loaded with allergens, including soy and nuts.
Choose Equipment Wisely
While most exercise machines won’t cause you to sneeze or wheeze, rubber mats, medicine balls, and some rubber-coated free weights might. Latex can often be found in these items, causing those with latex allergies to develop a rash or hives. Also, beware of disinfectant wipes and sprays used to clean gym equipment. They can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can spur an asthma attack or cause skin irritation.
Explore the Great Indoors
If you’re allergic to pollen, grass, and other environmental factors, hit the ground running indoors. Not a fan of treadmills and indoor tracks? Take your allergy medication before heading outside, and avoid running outdoors during midday and afternoon hours when pollen counts are generally highest. Be sure to change your clothes and shower immediately after finishing your workout to remove any allergens that might be clinging to your clothes and hair.
Opt for Comfort over Fashion
If your workout leaves you itchy and you’ve ruled out other gym culprits, your clothing might be to blame. Synthetic materials used in everything from shirts to socks could be irritating your skin. Check clothing labels, and opt for Lycra (spandex) over other synthetic materials, as it is higher quality and less likely to irritate your skin. Garments made of natural products can also help. If you have a latex allergy, be wary of athletic shoes and elastic waistbands.
To learn more about what may be triggering your symptoms and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, March/April 2013.