Impacts of Exercise on Asthma

allergy and asthma clinic


Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, and are an important of good asthma management and treatment. Sometimes, exercise or being physically active can trigger an episode of asthma. This is called exercise-induced asthma (EIA). This is usually easy to manage and should be part of any asthma management plan. In fact, regular exercise will improve your overall health and wellbeing.

People with asthma should be able to participate in almost any sport or exercise. Scuba diving is the only sport not recommended. In fact, many world-class athletes have asthma including runners Paula Radcliffe and Jo Pavey, cyclists Laura Trott and Bradley Wiggins and footballers David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

The trick is to make sure asthma is well controlled with medication and to choose your activity carefully. Some are good choices, others may be more of a challenge. If you regularly experience asthma symptoms during exercise, consult a top asthma doctor or respiratory specialist.

Benefits of exercise

In addition to the health, fitness and psychological benefits that regular exercise brings for the asthma sufferer, exercise can help your condition in many ways including:

  • Strengthens your heart
  • Strengthens your lungs
  • Improves your immune system
  • Makes you more tolerant to exercise
  • Reduces airway inflammation
  • Improves lung function
  • Improves your asthma control (when used as an adjunct with controller medicines)
  • Improves your mood
  • Decreases feelings of depression
  • Increases your energy
  • Helps you control your weight
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Reduces your risk of getting heart disease
  • Reduces your risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Reduces your risk of getting colon cancer
  • Reduces your risk of getting breast cancer
  • Helps you live longer
  • Helps you think better
  • Helps you learn better
  • You feel overall healthier
  • It helps you deal with stress better
  • You have fewer asthma episodes

Tips for exercising with asthma

Before you begin an exercise program, it is helpful to talk to a doctor. This is especially important with asthma symptoms that worsen with exercise. A doctor experienced in the management of asthma can help find the best exercises and asthma medications.
Here are some good tips for exercising with asthma:

  • Warm up first.
  • Try to breathe through the nose as much as possible.
  • Wear a scarf or mask over the nose and mouth in cold weather.
  • Avoid outdoor exercise when pollen counts are high if allergies are present with asthma.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors if air pollution is high.
  • Do not exercise when sick.
  • Include a cool-down routine after exercise.
  • Do not overexert during exercise.
  • Carry an albuterol inhaler for rescue if needed.

Best exercises for asthma

If you suffer from asthma, you may fear that working out would make your symptoms worse. Here are some of the best options for exercising with asthma:

  • Walking – It is recommended that asthma patients walk three times per week. Remember to warm up and cool down just like with any other exercise.
  • Yoga – Allows to control your breathing, which is beneficial for asthmatics because it can activate more areas of the lung.
  • Biking – This is a great way to get your activity in and your stress level down.
  • Baseball – An activity where your heart rate and breathing rate is sustained for at least 5-to-6 minutes continuously.
  • Golfing – The staggered activity of alternating swings with walking is great for keeping symptoms at bay, but be sure to check the pollen levels before heading out to the course.
  • Volleyball – Setting and striking don’t involve too much movement and when a player does run, it’s on a small court with five other players ready to pick up the slack.
  • Racquet sports – Allow you to expend energy on the court with regular rests between games and access to a water bottle.
  • Running – Keep your distance short and your pace moderate.
  • Downhill Skiing – This outdoor activity doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion, as the mountain does most of the work.

So, asthma is not a total barrier to exercise and in fact exercise can actually help your condition. By following the guidelines above, not only can your asthma symptoms reduce, you will also enjoy a whole host of exercise benefits including easier weight management, better all-round health and more energy. If you regularly experience asthma symptoms during exercise, schedule an appointment now with Dr. Amy B. Schiffman, Allergist and Asthma Specialist in Boca Raton, Florida, contact her at 561-409-2800.

Please call the office to discuss your allergy evaluation needs, and medications to avoid in preparation for testing.

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