A woman smiling broadly as she exercises on a stationary bike

Spinning in the Dark: Exercise, Stress, and Hives

Some people say that vigorous exercise can trigger their hives. That’s not the case for me. Exercise has been my secret weapon against hives for a few years. My favorite way to exercise is indoor cycling (also called spinning).

In the before times (pre-COVID-19), you could find me at Flywheel Sports 5 to 6 days a week. Flywheel was a chain of indoor cycling studios. When class started, the lights would go down and the music would turn up - loud! It was 45 minutes of riding up hills, sprinting fast, and living for the heavy beat drops.

Spinning is a stress reliever

Before becoming a regular at Flywheel, I studio-hopped and visited lots of different indoor cycling studios regularly. During that time, I decided that spinning was my favorite way to get a good sweat on and I learned that spinning helped me release stress.

I prefer to exercise in the evenings and spinning was a way for me to let go of the day and clear my head. I always felt better after a class and exercise was something I looked forward to, not something I dreaded.

Letting it all out in the dark

There were times when I would show up at Flywheel with large hives covering my back, shoulders, neck, and arms. I would keep a long-sleeve shirt on while I sat on my bike, pedaling before class started.

As soon as the lights went down, the long-sleeves would come off and I would immediately forget about my hives and whatever stressors from my day were likely responsible for them. At the end of class, I felt completely transformed. By the time I got home and showered, those hives from before my ride would be fading. It worked like magic every day.

Exercise helps me manage chronic hives

While spinning is my favorite exercise, I also love strength workouts and bootcamp classes. I enjoy going to group classes, but sometimes visible hives make me self-conscious; most workouts don’t take place in the complete dark, like Flywheel classes.

However, most days I keep my commitment to exercise. Even if the room won’t be dark. Even if I do have visible hives. I show up anyway because exercise helps me relieve stress and ultimately, that is the best thing I can do for myself and my hives.

Exercising at home is not the same

Unfortunately, Flywheel closed its doors for good during the pandemic. I never thought I would buy one, but I eventually gave in and bought a Peloton bike. It’s not as good as the in-person experience for me. I love group fitness and love the energy you give and get when working out with others.

But I appreciate my Peloton for what it has given me during these uncertain times – the ability to work up a good sweat, relieve stress, and help manage my hives. It’s also really convenient to not have to pack clothes or wait in line for a shower!

Finding ways to reduce stress

Whenever I see “reduce stress” as a tip for people with health issues, my reaction is usually an eye roll. Reducing stress is way easier said than done. Wouldn’t we all like to reduce our stress?

I know that stress is a trigger for my hives and there are some stresses in life that simply do not go away. But I am glad to have found something that actually does help me reduce the stress in my life. I can truly see the effects of exercise by simply looking at my hives before and after workouts.

Does exercise help you manage hives or does it make them worse? If you do exercise, what types do you enjoy? Does it help you reduce stress? Let us know in the comments below!

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