September 24, 2019
Exercising with Asthma
Don’t let an asthma diagnosis keep you from living the healthy life you deserve!
Exercise offers immense physical and mental health benefits. Once your asthma is well-controlled under the supervision of an allergist, there’s no reason you shouldn’t reap these benefits and improve your quality of life.
Beyond the general health advantages of exercise, asthma patients experience some specific asthma-related benefits that can lessen the frequency and severity of flare-ups, including:
- Improved lung function
- Weight loss
- Boosted immune system, resulting in fewer respiratory infections
- Stress reduction and mood enhancement
Just like anyone who starts a new exercise regimen, asthma patients should consult with their doctor before embarking on a workout program. Together, you can come up with a plan to balance medications with appropriate exercise for your situation.
Ensure you don’t do too much too fast, and always listen to your body. If you feel chest tightening or pain, start coughing, or experience shortness of breath, stop what you’re doing immediately and try to relax. You may want to take your quick-relief albuterol inhaler to help get things under control. Some other exercise pointers are:
- Always include a warm-up and a cool-down
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Cover your nose and mouth when it’s cold outside
- Exercise indoors when pollution or pollen (if you have allergic asthma) compromise air quality
- Skip your workout if you’re sick
Not all activities are created equal when it comes to picking sports/exercises for asthma sufferers. Some smart sport options include baseball, football, golf, gymnastics, sprinting, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling. These sports require bursts of energy but also incorporate periods of rest.
Swimming gets top marks from asthma experts because it involves the inhalation of warm, moist air, which is good for asthma patients. It helps with lung and heart health, and the intensity can easily be tailored to the individual and increased as stamina improves. It’s worth noting that some people find their asthma is triggered by chlorine, so bear that in mind if you decide to give swimming a try.
Other exercise options that can be done at your own pace and comfort level include walking, hiking, biking, and yoga. These can all improve your endurance without putting too much stress on your lungs. Yoga’s emphasis on controlled breathing can improve lung capacity while also reducing stress (great news for asthma sufferers!).
No activity should be considered strictly off-limits. Some high-intensity endurance sports such as basketball, soccer, and cross-country running may prove more difficult for people with asthma. The same holds true for winter sports like ice hockey, ice skating, and skiing due to the cold, dry air that can exacerbate asthma. That said, many successful Olympic athletes have asthma and compete in one of these sports.
Exercise is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. Work with an allergist to ensure that your asthma is under control so that together, you can craft a plan to get active and exercise safely.