Exercising with Allergies and Asthma

Do you avoid exercising because you have allergies or asthma, or both?  There are many healthy benefits of exercise, but for people with allergies or asthma, exercise can be hard, discouraging or sometimes even seem unbearable! Allergies and asthma can affect people of all skill levels, and symptoms can affect them at any point in time, anywhere.  Symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and headache can greatly affect the person exercising, even professional or seasoned athletes.  However, even those who suffer greatly from allergies and asthma can still reap the benefits of exercise.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), people with asthma and allergies can exercise, as long as they take proper precautions and discuss with their allergist an appropriate plan before embarking on the exercise regimen.It is important to go to your allergist to identify specifically what you are allergic to.  For example, if you are allergic to triggers such as dust mite, pet dander or some molds, since these are indoor allergens, it may not help to move your routine indoors.

Allergies and asthma usually won’t completely prevent you from all exercise, but the symptoms you experience may have an impact on performance.  Nasal congestion or wheezing can make it harder to breath, while other symptoms such as fatigue and headache can weaken your endurance and decrease concentration.

According to the ACAAI, the type of exercise can affect your symptoms as well.  In general, people with allergies may do better with exercises that are stop-and- go, as these activities usually cause less bronchial constriction than exercise with continuous motion. Running continuously is more likely to result in bronchial issues where as swimming causes less respiratory irritation.Choosing where and when to exercise can also greatly impact which allergens you are exposed to.  For example, during allergy season, you may be able reduce your exposure.  You may be able to avoid routes where air pollution levels are high. Some pollens, such as ragweed, are more prevalent in the morning, with levels dropping at midday.  Also, cold, dry weather can irritate the bronchial tubes.

Seeing your allergist can help determine specifically what you are allergic to so you can reduce your exposure to these allergens, determine if you have asthma (and more specifically, exercise induced asthma), and figure out a treatment plan so that you can incorporate exercise as part of a healthy and safe lifestyle!

-by Faith Huang, M.D.

Allergy & Asthma Associates of Southern California provides relief from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, chronic cough and other related conditions. Dr. William E. Berger, Dr. Warner W. Carr, Dr. Mark S. SugarDr. Christina D. Schwindt, and Dr. Faith R. Huang together with their staff specialize in allergy and immunology in Southern California.

If you or your child is suffering from allergies and or asthma, please call us at (949) 364-2900 to schedule your appointment today. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule a future appointment.

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