Use Caution While Exercising During Allergy Season

Shenandoah National Park

This past Sunday, my girlfriend and I went out for a 10.5 mile hike in Shenandoah National Park.  I should mention that we are experiencing a record-setting warm spell here in northern Virginia, with temperatures some twenty degrees higher than normal, reaching the low nineties.  Han, my girlfriend, and I usually run five days per week and also mix in some cycling, hiking or tennis for some cross-training benefits, so I would say that we are generally in fit aerobic shape.

She suffers from seasonal allergies and has recently been prescribed a nasal antihistamine inhaler to relieve her symptoms.  Only one mile into our hike she was experiencing discomfort and shortness of breath.  We both wear Suunto T3 wristops with heartbelts and foot pods (available at Sun and Ski) to monitor our training progress.  Because of the antihistamine inhaler, her heart rate was elevated above 160 bpm during a training effect rate between 2.5 and 3.0, which is unusually high.  She was also experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue.

We hiked farther into the park at a slower pace, eventually turning around after a long, steep ascent at the three mile point.  Our total hike was almost six miles, however, the unusually warm weather, pollen, and previously mentioned respiratory problems made for a physically and emotionally challenging outing.  On a positive note, the wildflowers and the clear blue skies were beautiful!

I would advise anyone who suffers from seasonal allergy symptoms to check with his or her doctor regarding possible side effects when requesting medication to alleviate nasal distress.  Be sure your doctor is aware of your personal fitness regimen, so that he can prescribe the correct drug for your specific lifestyle, whether that is an antihistamine or a steroid inhaler.

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