Exercising with Asthma

Exercise is necessary for maintaining good health. Without exercise, your physical health suffers. Unfortunately, there are health conditions that can make it difficult to get the exercise that your body needs in order to stay healthy. Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that inflames and constricts airways. When you’re exercising, your lungs need more air – something that constricted airways don’t allow – but asthma can cause coughing fits and pain, and make it difficult for a person to breathe without so much as running a single lap or completing a first set.

Although it can be more difficult to exercise with asthma than without, it’s not impossible to exercise with asthma. Being asthmatic just means that you have to be more prepared when engaging in physical activity, especially aerobic activity.

There is no cure for asthma. Even if your asthma hasn’t been triggered in years, you can still have a flare up at any time. This means that the goal is to manage your symptoms while exercising.

  • Common triggers are low temperatures and dry air. This makes exercising in the winter a nightmare for asthmatics. One way that you can help manage your symptoms is by wearing a thin, breathable mask or neck gaiter that can be worn over the mouth and nose to warm and humidify air.
  • Swimming is often considered to be one of the best exercises for people with asthma, as it is less likely to trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Everyone should warm up before exercising regardless of whether or not they have asthma. Warming up can prevent your body from shock and help manage asthma symptoms.
  • Consider less strenuous exercises such as hiking, cycling, walking, etc.
  • Endurance sports – such as distance running, soccer, and long-distance cycling – are more likely to cause problems for people with asthma.

Find out what your triggers are. If cold air triggers your asthma, skip the days when it’s cold outside, and try and plan your exercise during the warmest time of day. If pollen triggers your asthma, exercise indoors on days when the pollen count is up. The foods that you eat can also affect your asthma; a food and symptoms journal can help you discuss this with your doctor.

Do you only have asthma symptoms during and immediately after exercise? It’s possible that you have exercise-induced bronchitis (EIB). This means that you exhibit asthma symptoms – wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest – while exercising. These symptoms are temporary, and typically go away within 30 minutes of strenuous exercise. It’s possible to have EIB without otherwise having asthma.

You shouldn’t, however, disregard asthma symptoms as being EIB. You should consult your primary care physician for an examination if you exhibit asthma symptoms.

The best way to establish an exercise plan if you have asthma is to seek the help of a medical professional. See a physician to learn how to handle your asthma. This is important no matter what, but it’s especially important if you plan on exercising with asthma. If your asthma continues to disrupt your lifestyle, you may want to consult a pulmonary medicine doctor, or lung specialist.