Year after year, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthy and lose weight. But as resolutions and health regimens are about to be in full swing, many 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,” said allergist Richard Weber, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “By understanding what triggers symptoms, those with allergies and asthma will be able to feel good and remain active.”
To help those with New Year’s resolutions succeed, ACAAI has identified the five most common allergy and asthma exercise ailments, with tips on how to overcome them.
• Over Stepping your Boundaries - If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and unusual fatigue you might have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). The condition affects about 10 percent of Americans. Find relief by using your allergist prescribed inhaler before you begin your workout routine. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can also help.
• Think Before you Eat - Whether you’ve signed up for a dieting meal plan or are opting for foods with less calories, be sure to always read nutrition labels before you consume 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, that affect certain people.
• 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 and avoid running outdoors during mid-day and afternoon hours when pollen counts may be highest. Be sure to change your clothes and shower immediately after finishing your workout to remove any particles that might have fallen onto 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 the setback. Synthetic materials used in everything from shirts to socks could be irritating your skin. ACAAI recommends checking clothing labels and opting for Lycra (spandex) which 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.