Exercise vs. Allergies

All the Right Moves



SunCity/Shutterstock.com

Seasonal allergies plague more than 26 million Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, with numbers on the rise in recent years. This is due in part to a dramatic increase in the amount of airborne pollen, a possible byproduct of climate change. Environmental and lifestyle stress, inadequate nutrition and weakened immune systems are also factors, leaving many feeling too miserable to engage in physical activities.

Yet, research shows that exercise can help ease allergy symptoms and lessen severity. A survey of 2,000 allergy sufferers sponsored by the UK National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit showed those that exercised the most had the mildest symptoms.

More Exercise, Less Discomfort

Boosting heart rate through aerobic activities such as running, walking, jumping rope, treadmill routines, tennis and team sports like volleyball or basketball seems to offer anti-allergy benefits. Vitamin C can also help. Researchers from the Faculty of Sports Science at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand, found that 70 percent of participants that took a vitamin C supplement and ran for half an hour experienced decreased nasal congestion and sneezing.  

“Exercising regularly creates a cumulative effect in the body, helps speed up metabolism and improves immunity, so you could find even less allergies occurring over time,” says Stephanie Mansour, fitness expert and former allergy sufferer from Chicago. “I used to get allergy shots for a runny nose and headaches during certain times of the year, but personally transformed my allergies through expanding my lungs and chest and balancing out my nervous system.”

Exercising regularly creates a cumulative effect in the body, helps speed up metabolism and improves immunity, so you could find even less allergies occurring over time.
~Stephanie Mansour, fitness expert

The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy recommends gentler forms of exercise, and cautions against vigorous workouts such as Crossfit or long runs that can be counterproductive and exacerbate allergy flare-ups. Mansour recommends yoga, Pilates, walking or weight training—especially when congestion is a factor.

Try Some Yoga

Mansour, a certified yoga instructor, attests to the benefits of the practice. To ease the symptoms of allergies, she recommends yoga both for its physical effects and its breath benefits. “Yoga can also help bring equilibrium to the nervous system and help the body relax. When the body is in a healthy balance and relaxed, it’s more effective at warding off things like infection or allergies.”

Registered nurse and yoga instructor Kristin Brien, of New York City, concurs. “A yoga practice trains and strengthens the vagal nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system—rest and digest mode—and turns off the inflammatory response,” Brien says. “When we are under chronic stress, our nervous systems react as though our bodies are under constant threat, thus making some of us more susceptible to hypersensitive reactions to offending seasonal antigens like pollen and ragweed.”

Yoga practitioners across the board recommend inverted poses such as the plow, shoulder stand and downward facing dog to relieve allergy-related congestion. While yoga can be beneficial, inverted poses should be avoided by anyone with high blood pressure, glaucoma or retinal issues due to increased pressure in the blood vessels of the head, and some experts emphasize that allergy sufferers and asthmatics should avoid hot yoga and other demanding forms during flare-ups. A gentle approach goes a long way.

Helpful Links
For a simple workout plan and an anti-inflammatory food guide to help combat allergies, join Stephanie Mansour’s free 21-Day Challenge.
YouTube videos:
Yoga 101: Yoga Poses for Sinus Pressure
Yoga Poses for Sinus Congestion

Ideally, Brien recommends asanas that anyone can do, including legs up the wall, supported bridge pose, supported reclined goddess pose and child’s pose.

Warm-Up

No matter the type of exercise, warming up can play a key factor. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, stretching before activity and boosting heart rate helps to maximize exercise and its symptom-reducing effects.

Create a Healthy Space

Lessening the body’s burden by making small changes in living or workout space can also optimize the benefits of exercise. Brien, an allergy sufferer and asthmatic, recommends using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce circulating allergens and also wiping down all surfaces, including yoga mats, floors, window sills and vents. During drier, colder times of the year, Mansour recommends using a humidifier to add moisture to the air and improve breathing.

Exercise may not cure seasonal allergies, but it can lessen related symptoms, along with effecting a more balanced nervous system and better overall health.


Marlaina Donato is the author of several books and a composer.

 

Helpful Workout Tips

Before and After:

• Use a nasal saline spray beforehand.

• Change clothes and shower after outdoor exercise; wash workout clothing exposed to pollens.

Consider Wearing:

• Wraparound sunglasses to avoid allergens getting into eyes

• A breathable mask to filter allergens during outdoor activity

Avoid Exercising:

• In the morning when pollen and mold counts are highest

• When it’s warm, dry or windy outside

• On busy roads where exhaust fumes can irritate bronchial and nasal passages

• When tired, sick or under significant stress; all three states prompt the immune system to react more severely to allergens

Caution:

• Don’t exercise for at least two hours after an allergy shot to avoid significant side effects.


Photo by Kzenon/Shutterstock.com


This article appears in the March 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

The S P A C E Sanctuary Opens in Chappaqua

The S P A C E Sanctuary Opens in Chappaqua

“It was created as a place to gather, rest, breathe and heal.”
Bernadette Bloom Discusses Esoteric Healing on The Transformation Show

Bernadette Bloom Discusses Esoteric Healing on The Transformation Show

5 to 6 p.m. on March 7
Ward Off Spring Allergens with Nettle Leaf Tea

Ward Off Spring Allergens with Nettle Leaf Tea

Something as simple as drinking nettle leaf tea prior to and during early spring can be a helpful preventive practice.
Fresh Organic Becoming ‘Go-To’ Salon for Hair and Scalp Issues

Fresh Organic Becoming ‘Go-To’ Salon for Hair and Scalp Issues

Petition Demands Environmental Impact Study of Cricket Valley Project

Petition Demands Environmental Impact Study of Cricket Valley Project

Davenport is urging people to sign the petition asking New York leaders for an updated environmental impact study of the Cricket Valley Energy project.
Feeding the Future in Yonkers

Feeding the Future in Yonkers

Feed Your Future is part of a larger mission to empower communities to reclaim and revitalize environmentally and economically under-served neighborhoods.
Riverkeeper Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Riverkeeper Film Screening and Panel Discussion

5:30 to 9 p.m., March 5, at the Newburgh Brewing Company
NewLife Expo Returns to New York City in March

NewLife Expo Returns to New York City in March

March 22 through 24
Hilltop Hanover Farm Holds Maple Fest Weekends

Hilltop Hanover Farm Holds Maple Fest Weekends

March 23 to 24 and March 30 to 31
Rhinebeck Pilates Plans April Conference at Jacob’s Pillow

Rhinebeck Pilates Plans April Conference at Jacob’s Pillow

April 26 to 28
CBD Info Talks in Bedford Hills

CBD Info Talks in Bedford Hills

Free informational session on CBD products every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Juice Detoxes Work Better and Faster

Juice Detoxes Work Better and Faster

“The body doesn’t have to break down the solids, and the results are faster and better.”
Karen Drucker: Live at the United Palace

Karen Drucker: Live at the United Palace

7 p.m. on April 8
Free Spirit Holistic Expo Coming to Area

Free Spirit Holistic Expo Coming to Area

June 2, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Center for Green Building Opens in Mamaroneck

Center for Green Building Opens in Mamaroneck

Grand opening, including complimentary food and drinks, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 23.
Chef Alex Raij Serves Up Glynwood Farm Dinner

Chef Alex Raij Serves Up Glynwood Farm Dinner

6:30 to 10 p.m. on March 9
Equilibrium Studio Opens in Pawling

Equilibrium Studio Opens in Pawling

Equilibrium offers yoga, Pilates and Barre, as well as stretching and strengthening classes designed to help people rehabilitate from injuries and improve their athletic performance.
Dance the Weekend Away in Saratoga

Dance the Weekend Away in Saratoga

February 15 through 17
Natural Remedies Can Boost Immunity in Winter

Natural Remedies Can Boost Immunity in Winter

There is scientific evidence that acupuncture has a positive effect on the immune system.
Facial Massage Has Holistic Benefits

Facial Massage Has Holistic Benefits

“A well-performed facial massage is a glorious treat that will reduce puffiness, improve skin tone and enrich complexion."
Opioid Crisis Focus in Somers

Opioid Crisis Focus in Somers

1 to 3 p.m. February 7
‘Grandfather of Integrative Dermatology’ to Teach His Methods

‘Grandfather of Integrative Dermatology’ to Teach His Methods

“I encourage anyone living with unsolved chronic skin conditions to make an appointment and see how we can help you.”
Valerie Nivar Offers Natural Solutions for ‘Invisible Illnesses’

Valerie Nivar Offers Natural Solutions for ‘Invisible Illnesses’

“I am passionate about empowering my clients to achieve motivation and confidence and to live their best life.”
Sugaring Program at Sugar Hill Farm

Sugaring Program at Sugar Hill Farm

February 23
Holistic Chamber of Commerce Adds Poughkeepsie Chapter

Holistic Chamber of Commerce Adds Poughkeepsie Chapter

The new chapter will promote and support holistic and sustainable professionals and business owners in the Hudson Valley.
Synchronicity Brings Healing through Psychic Readings

Synchronicity Brings Healing through Psychic Readings

“These readings help offer guidance and insight into life situations.”
Microdermabrasion Now Offered by Daniela Hortencio

Microdermabrasion Now Offered by Daniela Hortencio

“It’s basically an exfoliation and skin rejuvenation procedure that leaves skin looking softer and brighter.”
Alternatives to Violence Project Seeking Workshop Facilitators

Alternatives to Violence Project Seeking Workshop Facilitators

The next Basic workshop in Westchester will take place March 8 to 10.

Add your comment: