Being Allergic To Exercise Is A Real Thing

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Being Allergic To Exercise Is Actually A Real Thing


The amount of times I've joked about being "allergic to exercise" is not even funny anymore.

It's hard to commit to going to the gym, and people tell you that's a terrible excuse, and it really is.

Exercise has a host of health benefits other than helping you lose weight, such as increasing your energy levels, boosting your mood, building bone density, decreasing your risk of chronic diseases, and the list goes on.

That being said, sometimes being lazy may be better for your health, but that's only if you're actually allergic to exercise...

Just like how people are allergic to pollen, jewelry, or household cleaners, some individuals are allergic to strenuous activity.

There's even a scientific term for it: exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIA).

While this condition is rare, affecting up to 2% of the Western population, it's quite serious.

People who suffer from EIA complain of itching, swelling, and trouble breathing.

This all happens when allergy cells in the body release histamines, which is a compound that helps your body get rid of allergens.

"When someone goes into anaphylactic shock, their bloodstream is flooded with inflammatory cells that overwhelm the body, bringing on itching, nausea, and making it hard to breathe," Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network said in a conversation with Greatist.

Why does this happen?

food and exercise
A deadly combination? Max Pixel

It's actually not exercise itself that causes people to have this allergic response, rather people can't workout after eating certain foods. This combination can be deadly.

"It's typically foods they could eat normally with no reaction, but working out with those foods in their system is what triggers the reaction," Parikh explained.

In a case published by Popular Science, a man had to be rushed to hospital after spending half-an-hour on the elliptical machine.

He had eaten a pizza topped with tomatoes and peppers before he exercised, and later learned that if he combines certain foods with exercise, he'll have an anaphylactic reaction.

Also, the scary part is that EIA can happen with any food. People who suffer from the condition are recommended to see an allergist to help them find out what foods they're sensitive to.

It's not only the combination of food and exercise that can cause a severe allergic reaction...

While many women are told exercising while they're menstruating is a good idea, some women can experience EIA during this time.

The reason why is because high levels of estrogen can bind to cells, causing an allergic reaction.

Also, some people can't participate in strenuous exercises like running, biking, or swimming after consuming common drugs, like aspirin, because the same effect happens.

This all sounds worrisome, but as mentioned before, EIA is rare, affecting only 50 out of every 100,000 people.

So many of us may not be able to use this excuse to skip the gym, but it's interesting to know that it's a real thing.

[H/T: Greatist / Popular Science]

Have you used this excuse before?

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at