Respiratory Health

Exercising with asthma: What you need to know


Exercising with asthma: What you need to know

One of the most common myths is that exercising with asthma runs the risk of bringing on an attack. But exercise is just as important for the general wellbeing of asthmatics as it is for everyone else. Not only that, but exercise can strengthen the lungs, helping manage your condition.

That’s not to say that you can just pull on your running shoes and start working out without giving a second thought to your asthma but, properly managed, there’s virtually no sport you can’t fully enjoy.

There are two main components to exercising with asthma: choosing the right activity and managing your condition

The right sport for you

Not everyone enjoys the same form of exercise, but luckily having asthma need not limit your choices. Some activities will likely be easier than others, but don’t let that put you off trying a new sport (after consulting your doctor of course).

Exercises that involve short bursts of activity are usually quite suitable for asthmatics: think sports like volleyball, baseball and cricket. Those that involve long periods of exertion such as running, football and basketball may be a bit more challenging, particularly in cold conditions, though with as many as one in 12 of all athletes in the Olympics suffering from asthma, this shouldn’t put you off.

Many asthmatics say they enjoy swimming, as the warm, moist air makes breathing while exercising easier. And if you’re looking for somewhere to start, walking is one of the best exercises available.

Yoga can also prove popular, both because of the thorough workout it provides and also the focus on breath control. Some studies have even suggested that asthmatics who practised yoga were able to reduce their medication, though this is something that must be discussed with your doctor: never make changes to your medication yourself.

Managing your asthma

The first step before embarking on any new exercise plan should be to talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to advise on what activities are best for you, give you advice on how to manage your symptoms, and what to do should they occur.

You should always take your medication as prescribed before, during and after a workout, and be sure to warm up properly before you start.

Also, be sure to avoid any potential triggers when you’re working out. For example, if pollen can trigger your symptoms then a run in the park is a poor choice, whereas working out indoors is likely much more appropriate.

What to do if you have an attack

If you experience any symptoms of asthma when exercising then follow the plan given to you by your doctor. Keep your inhaler or nebulizer nearby, and use it as directed as soon as you experience symptoms. As with any asthma attack, if that doesn’t help then you should call for emergency assistance.

Remember though, having asthma is not an excuse not to exercise. Yes, you will need to take a few extra precautions, but in the long run, your body will thank you for it, and it may even help ease your condition. Have fun!

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