An introduction to keeping your children active during the hayfever season
It can be frustrating for parents during the long summer months, when the pollen count is at its peak. Our social calendars become dominated by invitations to summer barbeques, garden parties and picnics at the park, all of which can seem like an annual bush tucker trial if your child suffers from debilitating episodes of hayfever.
Hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, typically emerges in children around the age of seven1 and brings with it a whole host of unpleasant symptoms, from congestion to fits of coughing. At the best of times, hayfever symptoms can be difficult to manage, but when your child is off school and sulking restlessly around the house between bouts of sneezing and sniffling, it can be both extremely exasperating and heart-breaking.
If you have children, you are probably aware of how much they enjoy being bored, particularly when their friends are out and about, having fun without them. Young children particularly need to be active, and it has been shown that regular exercise can in fact be beneficial when combatting hayfever symptoms.2
Nevertheless, when your child suffers from hayfever it can be difficult to determine what activities will won’t inflame their symptoms and you might feel tempted to veer on the side of caution and avoid the great outdoors altogether. There are other options though that can keep your children occupied, mentally stimulated and physically active.
Planning trips to the beach can be a brilliant alternative to getting ice cream at the park or taking drives around the countryside. The pollen count is normally higher inland and correspondingly lower around coastal areas, meaning that your child will be less likely to experience a flare up in their hayfever symptoms.
The beach can also provide hours of fun, from splashing in the ocean to building sandcastles by the sea. It also provides an opportunity for your child to socialise with their friends in a seasonal location, making them feel like less of an outcast.
If you plan on hitting the beach, it is important to remember to pack a few crucial items of luggage.
- Sun cream: A must-have, especially if your child is suffering from a rash or hives. It might be worth looking into a product aimed at sensitive skin, so it won’t further agitate any skin problems. Your Health Food Store stocks a range of natural sun creams aimed at protecting skin that is easily irritated
- Plenty of water: If your child is running around in the sun, he or she will run the risk of becoming dehydrated. If this happens, not only can it lead to a string of nasty health complaints, but dehydration can also aggravate hayfever symptoms such as coughing or a sore-throat. Keep a bottle of water handy and make sure they take a good drink at regular intervals
- Sunglasses: They might be resistant to wearing them but wraparound sunshades can to wonders protecting your children’s eyes. If your children’s eyes are red or sore, then it is important to keep them guarded against coming into contact with irritants like pollen, or sunlight
- Protective clothing: Wearing a light cardigan or a sunhat will offer your child some protection from contracting sunburn. Just make sure that they keep them on when they’re dashing around in the sand.
When nature decides to go on the offensive, it might be worth taking a trip somewhere less exposed. Chances are you live within driving distance of a local museum or science centre that you’ve never visited before. Now might be a good time to start, especially if the museum is kid-friendly and packed full of interactive exhibits.
Museums can inspire a child’s sense of curiosity, particularly if they happen to be interested in a particular topic or scientific subject like space. If your child is going through an ‘astronaut’ phase then take them to a nearby observatory or if they’re interested in dinosaurs, try to find a museum that will provide a fascinating look a prehistoric life. Not only will it keep your child’s mind active but it might also stimulate new interests and further psychological development.
If your child’s symptoms are too severe or the pollen count is too high, having them run around outside is sometimes just not a feasible option.
Rather than having them lounge in front of the television, it might be worth investigating your local recreation centre. If you live somewhere like Scotland, then the chances are that your leisure centres are more orientated around indoor sports than outdoor activities, which can be an unexpected boon when it comes to keeping your children active as they can offer a wide range of physical and child-friendly activities, such as:
- Tennis: Tennis is an excellent form of exercise for young children to learn as it improves coordination, cardiovascular fitness and strengthens the immune system
- Gymnastics: Gymnastics is excellent for promoting discipline and perseverance. Your child will learn to focus better on a particular activity and their overall fitness will be improved, with increased flexibility and coordination
- Football: A popular choice for most children, football teachers children to develop their ability to work as a team and develops their physical endurance and strength
- Yoga: Yoga might seem like an unusual choice for your child but the benefits of doing so cannot be overstated enough. Yoga will teach your child how to respect their body and manage day to day stress, as well as being an excellent form of exercise, promoting balance, flexibility and strength
- Archery: Your ten year old being taught how to use a medieval weapon might not conjure happy thoughts, but archery is in fact one of the best forms of exercise to engage in if you suffer from hayfever. This is because it does not place too much stress on the respiratory system but it does provide a good work out for the upper body, and is excellent for promoting focus and relieving stress.
Regularly encouraging your child and their friends to visit the local leisure centre will inspire them to socialise and exercise in a same and relatively pollen free environment. Your child will have the chance to develop their skills in an activity of their choosing, as well as improving their overall health and wellbeing.
If you want your child to discover a more exciting and invigorating world of sport then you can always try to introduce them to water sports. Water sports can work well for children suffering from hayfever as it can take them away from high pollen environments and provide them with a fun way of exercising outdoors.
Almost all water sports require a basic level of swimming but if your child is a capable swimmer then this shouldn’t hold them back.
- Surfing: An activity you might not immediately associate with your local coastline, surfing is a fun way to stay active during the summer, so long as you don’t mind your child getting wet. It has numerous health benefits, from enhancing your child’s cardio fitness to developing their upper body strength. Surfing has also been shown to have emotional benefits, improving your mood and ability to concentrate. If you wish to find out more information about surfing, including the details of clubs near you, please visit http://surfinggb.com/2015/02/16/surfing-gb-vision-statement/
- Sailing: Sailing can be a valuable life skill to acquire, although the thought of your nine year old let loose on a boat might have you reaching for your life jacket. However, sailing can help to improve your child’s physical and emotional wellbeing as it develops their communication skills, their ability to concentrate and their cardiovascular fitness
- Scuba diving: If your child is still able to equalise the pressure in their ears, then scuba diving might be a fun and educational activity to consider - it will certain take them to a pollen free environment! Scuba diving can also teach your children valuable lessons about marine habitat and conservation, imbuing them with a passion and interest that might last their life. If you are interested in more information, please visit https://www.bsac.com/Default.asp to find out more about scuba diving in the UK.
It might sound risky but there are a number of outdoor sports that remain suitable for hayfever sufferers. Not all physical activity has to take place surrounded by fields, so it might be worth considering exercising in places that have a low pollen count, such as on higher ground or moorland.
- Swimming: Swimming has be noted as having a positive impact upon hayfever symptoms and it is generally a good form of exercise for children, improving their strength, coordination and agility. However, it is important to note that the chlorine in indoor swimming pools can irritate the lining of the throat and exacerbate hayfever symptoms. It would be better for your child if they were allowed to swim in open waters, such as the ocean
- Mountain biking: Most children love nothing more than getting on their bike and pedalling around the park. Rather than planning an ordinary biking trip in the countryside, why not treat your child to a mountain biking experience? Most mountain bike trails are located in the moorlands, where there is a lower pollen count than in parks or the countryside. Like normal cycling, mountain biking helps to strengthen your child’s muscles and is good for their overall physical health
- Climbing: Children love to climb, especially in places that they’re not supposed to. A nice alternative to an indoor climbing centre might be to take them climbing near the beach or in the moorlands, where there is a lower pollen count. Climbing encourages concentration and upper body strength, as well as building up your child’s confidence and teaching them to overcome their fears. If you decide to go climbing, please make sure you do so in a safe environment with an expert who can ensure your child’s safety and security.
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts are a time honoured way of spending time with your child and keeping them mentally active. Although normally reserved for rainy days, if your child is too bogged down by symptoms to go outside, it can be a good way of keeping them active indoors, educating them about a particular skill, and giving them a sense of accomplishment.
It would be almost impossible to list all of the different activities that you can try and do with your child but here are a few of the more popular choices:
- Clay modelling: If your children don’t mind getting a bit messy - and let’s face it most children enjoy nothing more than creating a huge mess - then clay modelling might be an interesting activity to introduce them too. If you make sure to purchase air dry clay, you and your children can enjoy sculpturing a variety of different things from ornamental necklaces to colourful fridge magnets. Just mentally prepare yourself for the clean up afterwards though!
- Paper-mache: Paper mache is a tried and tested craft idea that cause hours of fun and chaos. There are a range of different options from making rockets to functional pencil holders. Best of all, your child can paint and decorate their creation however they want to and make it into a memorable keepsake
- Science experiments: if you want your activity to have more an educational undertone then there are a range of scientific child-friendly experiments you can perform with your child, from building an erupting volcano to making a CD balloon hovercraft. It’s a good way to introduce your child to basic scientific concepts and provide a mentally stimulating afternoon.
- Baking: Baking can be a fun and educational activity to participate in with your child. You will be able to teach them about proper diet and nutrition, as well as pass on a valuable life skill. If you are considering teaching your child out to cook, then why not educate them about foods that are good for relieving hayfever symptoms?
- Indoor treasure hunt: Plan a fun afternoon for your child by constructing an indoor treasure hunt, filled with interesting puzzles and fun rewards to satisfy their competitive natures and sense of curiosity
- Reading: The importance of encouraging your child to read cannot be overestimated. Good reading skills can contribute towards developing your child’s speech, their communication, their ability to concentrate and their ability to problem solve. It might be worth having an afternoon at the local library or getting them involved with some creative writing games.
If you feel that your child’s hayfever symptoms are severe enough to be damaging their overall quality of life, then it might be worth checking out our Hayfever and Children blog, where our experts discuss the best ways of reducing your child’s hayfever symptoms, including the use of natural solutions such as Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets.
Pollinosan tablets are made using seven different types of herbs and are specifically aimed at treating all common hayfever symptoms. They can be taken by children over the age of twelve and unlike many types of anti-histamine, Pollinosan Is a non-drowsy solution.
Pollinosan tablets can also be taken in conjunction with Pollinosan Luffa Nasal Spray, which works cleanse the nasal passages of pollen and other allergens. Unlike Pollinosan tablets, Pollinosan nasal spray can be taken by children from the ages of six upwards. If your child is under the age of twelve, then it might be worth considering our Luffa Complex Tincture which can be taken by children over the age of two.
Pollen information for your local area
We've got lots of great pollen information for your local area on our website, including a 5-day pollen count forecast, pollen hotspots to avoid and hayfever-friendly activities to do around your city.
Find more cities here.