(ABC NEWS)--With pollen and mold, the best approach is avoidance. Pollen and mold spore levels vary with location, time of day, and the weather, explains Gailen D. Marshall, MD, PhD, director of the division of allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Texas, Houston, Medical School.
You breathe harder and suck in more air when you're exercising than when you're, say, lying on the couch. That's why it's particularly important to minimize your exposure to allergens when you work out outside. The more air you suck in, the more airborne pollen and mold spores you suck in too. To minimize your exposure, exercise when and where pollen and mold levels are lowest. And...
Be fickle. If you dabble in different types of exercise, stick with the one least likely to expose you to allergens during allergy season. Opt for tennis on a cement court rather than, say, golf, suggests Malcolm N. Blumenthal, MD, director of the Asthma and Allergy Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.
Breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Your nose filters incoming air, helping keep allergens out.
Medicate first. Using certain medications, such as cromolyn sodium and antihistamines, before you exercise can ease allergy symptoms.
Exercise inside. When the pollen count is high, it's time to go to the gym or the mall.
Avoid outdoor chemicals. In addition to avoiding pollen-showered groves and moldering leaf piles, steer clear of major highways and industries when you exercise. Chemical irritants from exhaust and from factory smokestacks can worsen allergy symptoms, says Dr. Blumenthal. And avoid fireworks displays on the holidays; the sulfur in the gunpowder is irritating.