Hay Fever: 4 Tips on How to Do Sports Despite Seasonal Allergies

allergies and running

By Pouria Taheri,
Head of Medical for adidas Runners and RUNBASE Berlin

Spring draws us outdoors and may even spark the start of marathon training, but anyone with hay fever or other seasonal allergies has significant limitations to deal with.

Early blooming trees, grasses, and pollen make life hard for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. “A training schedule that works can become a real challenge for athletes,” says Pouria Taheri, orthopedic specialist and trauma surgeon, sports physician, and adidas Runners medical coach. The body resists any personal ambition. “Even in regular daily activities, there is no end to the itchy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Breathing becomes harder, and the general performance level drops; exercising makes it even worse.”  

Here are tips on how to work out despite seasonal allergies.

pollen and seasonal allergies

Seasonal Allergies: 4 Tips on How to Do Sports When Having Hay Fever

1. Don’t give up

The fun in sports quickly evaporates when seasonal allergies prevent you from lacing up your running shoes. Frustration and the exhausting symptoms often make you want to take a break. “It’s understandable, but that’s exactly what I try to avoid as the attending physician. I encourage people to deal with the annoying problem,” says Pouria Taheri.

2. Train your immune system

Did you know that regular exercise outdoors is almost as effective as allergen immunotherapy? Carefully building up resilience stabilizes the immune system. There are many ways to boost your immune system, and many of them involve food. Take a look at what you’re eating and see if you can make some healthy changes.

3. Use first aid for acute problems

In the alternative above, however, a subjective evaluation of your limits is decisive. You should have medical support such as an inhaler within reach so that your drive doesn’t get you into trouble. “Taking allergy medicine like an antihistamine before your workout is advisable to treat constant problems.” Antihistamines prevent seasonal allergies from causing difficulty breathing or severe reactions like shortness of breath. Alternating your workouts between outdoors and indoors is a smart way to gradually strengthen your immune system and create a smooth transition to resilience.

 Tip from experts:
 Breathing through your nose while exercising outdoors warms you up and reduces the number of allergens you inhale.

exhausted from workout

4. Talk to your doctor about allergen immunotherapy

You should seek medical treatment for ongoing afflictions or challenging problems that recur over the years. “Many people try to address the problem with allergen immunotherapy, in which regular exposure to allergens teaches your immune system to adapt. However, this requires patience; the therapy usually takes one to two years.”

Good to know:

This treatment is not suitable for everyone. Possible interactions with other substances or medications can lead to adverse reactions. It should be noted that medical supervision is critical in this process for recreational athletes and competitive athletes with conditions such as reactive airway disease or asthma.


The annoying sneezing and the many obstacles of seasonal allergies such as hay fever shouldn’t keep you from reaching your goals. Combining endurance and strength training is immeasurable and can improve your health long term so that you don’t have to sacrifice your quality of life in old age. Perseverance and smart decisions are essential to reach this higher goal.

adidas running banner


RUNBASE Berlin Team RUNBASE Berlin offers runners everything from training to nutrition and health tips. Its goal is to help everyone become a better version of what they are. View all posts by RUNBASE Berlin Team