Why Does My Nose Run When I Workout?

Learn why your nose runs when you workout and how you can prevent it in the future!


Physical activity such as working out can be beneficial to both mental and physical health, but it also has some drawbacks; one of the most common is a runny nose. For many people, nasal drip occurs when they engage in any form of exercise or physical activity. This is often referred to as “exercise-induced rhinitis” and it can cause the body to produce an excessive amount of mucus. In this article, we will discuss why your nose runs when you work out, possible remedies for exercise-induced rhinitis, and other concerns about this condition.

Physical Causes

It may come as a surprise that your nose runs when you exercise, but there are actually several physical causes of it. Some of the most common causes include the weather, the heat, and the intensity of your workout. In this section, we’ll explore the physical causes of a running nose while working out and how to prevent it.


Allergies can sometimes be the culprit behind your post-workout runny nose. Allergens like pollen, dust, pet dander, and smoke are more prevalent when you’re exercising outdoors, if these allergens cause your body to become overwhelmed they can lead to post-workout congestion. To avoid this type of reaction try to use an indoor facility on days when levels of different allergens are especially high. When exercising outdoors wear a face mask that includes a filter that is effective against allergies.

Histamine is another common trigger for post-workout runny nose as it’s released during physical activity. Histamine triggers the same kind of response in the body as an actual allergen would and also causes inflammation in your upper respiratory system which leads to congestion and a runny nose. On days where you’ll be doing intense physical activity it might be helpful to take antihistamines before you begin working out in order to avoid any nasal symptoms during or after exercise.

Cold air

Many individuals experience a runny nose while exercising, particularly in colder temperatures. This is often caused by the temperature of the air. When we exercise, we take more breaths and faster breaths than when we are at rest. They are also shallower, so our noses don’t do an effective job of warming up inhaled air. In cold weather, this can create an uncomfortable feeling as cold air hits unprotected nostrils and sinuses – causing mucus formation and a runny nose. Additionally, embedded irritants like pollen and dust particles can cause a reaction that further contributes to nose running when exercising in the cold outdoors. If you experience this, be sure to wear a scarf or other face covering when going out for physical activity during colder months to help protect your nose from the elements.

Sinus infection

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is a very common medical condition caused by inflammation or infection of the lining of the sinuses. It can lead to a variety of symptoms including congestion, headaches and a runny nose.

Sinus infections often occur due to allergies or viral/bacterial infections that cause inflammation in the nasal passages. This results in excess mucus production and drainage, both of which may complicate exercise and cause your nose to run when working out. It is important to keep your sinuses clear while exercising by using over the counter decongestants or saline sprays followed by blowing your nose gently.

Your doctor may also be able to provide more specific treatments if needed, such as antibiotics for bacterial infections or oral corticosteroids for severe allergies. Additionally, maintaining proper hydration before, during and after workouts can further reduce your risk of developing a sinus infection as well as help stop it from running when you exercise.

Deviated septum

A deviated septum is a condition in which the nasal septum – the wall of cartilage and bone that separates the two sides of the nose – is not straight, but curved or crooked. This can cause persistent nasal congestion, airflow blockage and a runny nose during physical activity. In some cases, this deviation may be caused by birth defects or injuries such as a broken nose, but in many cases it is simply an anatomical variation. Surgery may be an option to correct this issue, however you should discuss this with your healthcare provider to determine whether it is suitable for you.

Psychological Causes

Have you ever noticed your nose running while working out? It’s a phenomenon that can stem from a number of different causes, some of which can be attributed to psychological factors. It can be embarrassing, but it’s not uncommon and is something that can be addressed. While physiological causes of a running nose while working out will be discussed, this section will go over some psychological causes of this phenomenon.


It is normal to experience physical responses when experiencing anxiety, such as increased heart rate and sweating. These are your body’s natural instincts telling you to prepare itself for danger or an emergency. In the same way, anxiety may also cause your body to release too much of a certain chemical, resulting in runny noses. This is because intense psychological activity can stimulate the production of histamines, which causes mucous membranes to become inflamed. This could be something that you experience right before or during a workout, particularly if it is something that causes a considerable amount of stress or apprehension. The good news is that this should not last long and can be easily managed by engaging in breathing techniques or simply taking a break from the stressful activity until you feel ready to continue.


The physical exertion that comes with working out causes our body to secrete certain chemicals and release hormones. For many people, these hormones—particularly cortisol—can trigger a psychosomatic response known as an autonomic reaction. This response can cause people to produce more mucus than normal, leading to a runny nose during exercise.

Stress can also be linked to why some people experience runny noses while working out, especially due to the fact that physical activity can bring stress. Cortisol is released during times of stress and can cause the increase in mucus production, resulting in a runny nose. Many researchers have also hypothesized that “mental stress” or fear of physical activity could be the cause of nasal drip while working out. Additionally, when our bodies perspire during physical exertion, this often causes us to experience dryness in our nasal passages—which may lead some people to “inhale harder” through their nostrils—creating more mucus secretion as a result.


One of the common psychological causes of a running nose while exercising comes from irritation of the mucous membranes that line the nasal passage. This irritation is usually caused by cold weather, airborne particles, dust and pollen in the environment. In this case, the running nose is actually a protective mechanism used by the body to eliminate these irritants from your system. During physical exertion, you tend to breathe more heavily and deeply which in turn dries out your nasal passages and leads to irritation that can cause your nose to run. If possible, adjusting your exercise routine to avoid these environmental triggers can help you stay healthy and keep your nose from running while you workout.

Prevention and Treatment

Working out often results in a runny nose for many people, and this can be a nuisance. While a runny nose is often caused by physical exertion, it can sometimes be related to allergies or other medical issues. In this article, we will discuss the causes of why your nose runs when you work out, along with strategies for prevention and treatment.

Use a nasal spray

Using a nasal spray can reduce the amount of mucus that is produced with exercise-induced rhinitis. This works by temporarily shrinking the nasal blood vessels, and reducing the amount of flow through the nasal passages. If your doctor approves, an over-the-counter oral decongestant medication such as pseudoephedrine (commonly sold as Sudafed) works in a similar way. If your symptoms are severe, you may need a prescription intranasal spray or steroid to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. When using any type of medication, always follow package label instructions and ask your doctor’s advice on possible side effects and interactions with other drugs you may be taking.

Stay hydrated

When exercising, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Staying properly hydrated is essential to helping reduce the amount of post-exercise nose running. The best fluids to drink are water and unsweetened electrolyte drinks such as sports drinks or coconut water. Coffee, sodas or sugary juices should be avoided as they contain substances that may contribute to dehydration. The general rule is that you should drink 8 ounces of fluid for every 30 minutes of moderate activity; more if you are engaged in strenuous activity and if it’s very hot outside.

For an extra boost, add a pinch of salt or other electrolyte supplement to your water before and after exercise as this helps your body rehydrate quickly, balancing the necessary salts and minerals in your system which reduces nasal discharge when working out. Additionally, having a snack with some carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes after a workout can also help with the dryness that comes from the release of mucus during exercise.

Wear a scarf

When exercising in cold weather, it is important to remember to wear a scarf or similar covering over the nose and mouth. This will prevent the cold air that is inhaled during exercise from triggering a runny nose. The scarf should be made of a lightweight material that remains breathable. Wrapping a thick scarf around the face can lead to overheating and excessive sweating, which also can cause an increase in nasal secretions.

Avoid triggers

The best way to prevent running noses when exercising is to avoid those activities and situations that can trigger the condition in the first place. To help you do this, it is important to become familiar with some of the common triggers:

-Cold weather: Drop in temperature can cause nosebleeds, runny noses and congested breathing. Try covering your head,mouth and nose while exercising outdoors in wintry conditions.

-Dust and pollen: Pollen, dust and other allergens can trigger a runny or stuffy nose during exercise. Keep windows closed on days with high pollen counts or use an air purifier indoors when exercising at home.

-Strength training: During strenuous exercises such as lifting weights, heavy breathing leads to smaller particles being inhaled further into the nasal passages where they get trapped. Take regular breaks during strength training and especially avoid long sessions of bending down or squatting as you will take in even more particles through your nose and mouth.

-High altitudes: Choosing to exercise at high altitudes will also increase your risk of nasal drips due to extreme cold temperatures and dry air. To reduce your chances; take time to acclimatize yourself before starting any strenuous activity up high.


In conclusion, there are several possible explanations for why your nose runs when you exercise. Exercise-induced rhinitis, a combination of breathing through your nose, sweat, and exposure to cold air can all be the culprits. Furthermore, even if you don’t experience any direct nasal or respiratory symptoms while exercising you may still feel a runny or congested nose after physical activity.

The best course of action to prevent your nose from running during workouts is to allow enough time for your body to warm up before pushing yourself too hard and prolonging periods of exercise in cold temperatures. Additionally, keeping hydrated and moisturizing the sensitive tissues of your nose will help reduce extra sensitivity and make dealing with fluctuations in temperature easier. Finally, speaking with your doctor if symptoms become disruptive or frequent may be necessary.

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