PT on the Net Research

Allergies and Exercise


Question:

I have exercise-induced allergies, and I am training for a marathon. I went to the doctor and all I got was Claritin. What can I do?

Answer:

There is the classic East meets West answer for this question. I am drawn between answering this question in a neat and tidy Western influenced answer and answering the way I want to with an Eastern flare, so I will attempt to do both. At our clinic in Los Angeles, we try to tackle all problems with an eclectic point of view. The Western thought of your allergies would tell us that with all this training for a marathon, you have developed an allergic reaction to some of the irritants outside. Most experts agree that even with severe allergies, exercise should not be cut out of one’s daily routine. The exerciser should try to make informed choices on his/her exercise program. The first step is to try to nail down exactly what you are allergic to. Screening for the particular allergen can only be done by an allergy specialist. The allergist will put you through a series of distinctive tests, shots and trials until they can narrow down the possibilities. A great web site I would like to refer you to is drkoop.com.

If we look at the rise in allergies and quirky aches and pains in today’s society, we will see that it has hit epidemic proportions. Has the earth really gotten that much worse in the last 20 years? I don’t think so. There is a book called Heal Thy Self by Saki Santorelli that I think you may be interested in if you want to open up your mind for a while. Another author I strongly recommend is Mary Louise Hayes. These authors delve into the reality of self healing and realizing that allergies are signs saying that the body as a whole is not liking what is going on right now. To medicate and try to mask the real issues can put you on a roller coaster of Western medications, surgeries and quick fixes to line the pockets of extremely wealthy pharmaceutical companies. We strongly recommend anyone who is undertaking any exercise program, let alone a task like a marathon, to take time for their inner being as well as their exterior. Far too often exercise enthusiasts will turn ill for no apparent reason. People will ask if exercise is so healthy, why did those people get sick or worse? The reason is quite simple really. Exercise is nothing more than stress to your body. Hopefully, the stress is placed in such a way that we adapt to the systematic stress placed on the system to become a stronger organism.

What should you do? Track the time you spend in training for your marathon, and compare it to the time you spend in healing exercises such as deep, tranquil meditation or prayer. How does it balance out? Most exercisers will topple the scale in athletic pursuits and preparations without giving a second thought to their inner spirits or their mind power. Even the IDEA trainer magazine’s cover story in the May 2002 issue is "Focus on Psychology." In this article Dr. Jim Galvin delves into the concept of how our emotional histories may actually sculpt our physical selves. He raises the idea that people look a certain way based on their mental states and past experiences. He goes so far as to say that trainers may be doing their clients a disservice if they don’t take into account the client’s mental well being. APEX nutrition stated in their certification course that the number one determining factor of whether an exercise and nutritional program is going to be successful was the mental state of the individual at the time of undertaking the program. Yet, for two days we did not discuss psychology of any kind.

We are being bombarded by the quick fix attitude and the 99 cent heart attacks on a daily basis, but occasionally a book or movie will inspire our creative nature. The two latest movies that may intrigue your inner spirit are K-pax and Pay It Forward. In K-pax, Kevin Spacey actually states that, “All life forms have the power to heal themselves, we just choose to ignore it.” I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention that there are programs to help people take an active role in their overall health. Paul Chek has a program called "Optimal Health and Fitness through Nutrition and Lifestyle" that I think is right on the mark. The NCEP also has a class dealing with the psychology of sport and exercise. The concept of mind, body and soul have been with us since the beginning of time. They are meant to create balance in one’s life. The choice is yours to accept.

I didn’t intend to overdo the alternative healing routes on you without warning. This article was in no way meant to say that you don’t legitimately have an ailment in which a suitable medication may be available. I intended this article to provoke thought on a different level to our readers. Thank you for allowing the forum of question to convey this message. I hope I answered your question proficiently in both Eastern and Western styles.