Exercise Outdoors With These Hay Fever Hacks

Hay Fever Hacks

Struggling with hay fever? At the height of a pollen surge for many, it can be more than just an itchy throat and sneezing, it can keep you locked indoors.


There is a brief window for fine weather in the UK and it seems a tragic waste to not make the most of the training outdoors. Whether it’s a kickabout at the park, a run in the sun, or full-on circuits out in the fresh air, the small matter of hay fever can leave you struggling for breath before you’ve even started to warm up.


Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a check list of ways to stop pollen keeping you from your outdoor exercise.

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Know Your Enemy


Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, with your immune system acting to protect you from infection. The symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and an itchy throat. When you’re suffering badly the symptoms can be much worse, leaving you feeling hungover, exhausted, aching and like you have the flu.


These hay fever attacks don’t come exactly unannounced; you can check the local pollen count the same as you look up the weather forecast and make sure to stay away from meadows that day.

Head For Water


If thinking in evasive tactics, you could make it a beach training day or an opportunity for some swimming. Though hay fever may feel like a cold, the difference is that you know the cause of the problem. By diving into water, this will wash the pollen off you and seasides tend to be safer from high pollen counts.


If that’s not an option and a run round a freshly-mown field has left you sneezing, a cold shower is a good solution to rinse the dust from your hair, eyebrows and face. Got a beloved pet? Leave it outside, or give it a wash before letting it bring all the pollen on its fur indoors.

Avoid Booze


This is equally beneficial for your summer training and avoiding dehydration in the baking sun, but while a pint in the beer garden might seem a good idea at the time, alcohol exacerbates the symptoms of hayfever. In the throes of hay fever, your body produces histamine, which causes inflammation. Booze also contains histamine and its dehydrating nature can cause your body to produce even more.


Nutritional Fixes


As well as store-bought meds and antihistamines, there are a few things you can add to your diet to help in the war against hay fever. Green tea has an anti-histamine short-term effect and chamomile has been known to soothe the symptoms. Another tip is to use chamomile tea bags as cold compresses for your swollen eyes.


Locally-sourced honey can help to build up an immunity to that pollen while serving as a soothing anti-inflammatory for your throat.
Spicy food, garlic, ginger and chilli also come highly recommended to help with congestion.


Look for foods high in quercetin, which suppress histamine production. These include green vegetables, berries, beans and apples.
Foods full of beta carotene can soothe sinus pains and congestion, so look out for yellow fruit, oily fish, carrots, spinach and yellow fruit.


Cheese, nuts, cured and smoked meat and fish, citrus fruits such as kiwis, lemons, limes, pineapples and plums can produce histamines and are best avoided.

Dress For Hay Fever


Your eyes are one of the main targets for pollen to get into your system, so investing in some sunglasses that cover as much of your eyes as possible are a must. Second, to that, the bottom of your nostrils is a danger zone. For that, if fashioning a bandana or scarf of some sort isn’t appealing, put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap some of the pollen from getting in.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile oranisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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