Benefits Of Exercise When You Have Asthma
Exercise is important for overall health as well as lung health, and there are many benefits of physical activity for people living with asthma. Daily exercise helps to improve your lungs capacity, in other words, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use. Also, exercise increases blood flow to your lungs, promoting blood flow to the heart which pumps oxygen throughout your body. For example, people who exercise have more ability to pull oxygen from the lungs and into the blood that feeds the muscles that keep us going.
Are Some Activities More Or Less Likely To Cause Symptoms
When you exercise with asthma, some activities are less likely to cause symptoms than others. For example, swimming is an aerobic activity that exposes you to warm and moist air that will not irritate your lungs. Other activities that will generally not lead to symptoms while exercising with asthma include:
- Biking leisurely
If team sports are more your thing, you are less likely to develop symptoms while exercising with asthma if you participate in sports that require short bursts of activity, such as:
- Sprint running
On the other hand, endurance sports are more likely to lead to symptoms. Sports more likely to lead to asthma symptoms, especially if your asthma is not under good control, include:
Exercise To Improve Exercise
Suggested doseresponse relationship between physical activity and asthma risk.
Therefore, it is apparent that aerobic, moderate-intensity exercise training can be beneficial for allergic inflammation: these data open a new door on the possibility for exercise therapy for asthmatics, in which exercise, in general a potential trigger for EIA/EIB, is instead a comprehensive part of the prevention and therapy strategies for asthmatics. However, on the other hand it has been shown that physical training programs in asthmatics improve cardiovascular fitness, but do not improve baseline lung function or bronchial hyperresponsiveness .
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Is It Safe To Exercise If I Have Asthma
One of the goals of asthma treatment is to help you maintain a normal and healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise and other physical activities. Taking your asthma medications as prescribed, avoiding triggers, and checking your symptoms and how well your lungs are working will help you achieve this goal.
If asthma symptoms prevent you from fully taking part in activities, talk to your asthma doctor. A small change in your asthma action plan may be all that is needed to provide asthma relief during exercise or other activity.
What Medications Can Prevent Exercise
If your medication has been adapted to your specific situation and you can effectively control your asthma, you are far less likely to have sudden breathing difficulties when you do sports. Your doctor can help you find the type of medication that best suits your physical activities.
There are two main groups of medications, known as controllers and relievers. Controller medication is used as a long-term treatment to keep the asthma under control. The effect of this medication is felt slowly over time. Reliever medication has a quick and short-term effect. It can be used before doing strenuous physical activities, as well as to relieve acute asthma attacks. Its important to talk to your doctor about how often you can safely use reliever medication per day.
The following medications can be used before strenuous activities to prevent exercise-induced :
Its often not easy to know which medications will best prevent exercise-induced . You may have to try out different medications to find out which medication works best for you.
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Recommended Sports And Activities
Any activity can cause asthma symptoms. Sports and activities with short bursts of activity, rather than long periods of activity, are usually better for people with asthma. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, some sports may be less likely to trigger symptoms. The warm, humid environment, the use of upper body muscles, and the body position while swimming may be good for people with asthma . One warning, the chemicals used to treat swimming pools are a problem for some people. Other recommended activities and sports include:
Breathe Easier With Dispatchhealth
While exercising is one of many ways to improve lung function and manage asthma symptoms, exacerbations can still happen. When they do, DispatchHealth can help. We understand how alarming an asthma attack can be, especially when youre unprepared, and have designed our on-demand service to cater to those experiencing these unforeseen exacerbations. We deliver acute care to homebound patients, helping them receive advanced, in-home medical attention for their unique conditions and their exacerbated symptoms. Best of all, were in-network with most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid.
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How To Start Being More Active
If youre just starting to exercise with asthma more, you might feel intimated about going to the gym or picking up a sport. Or, you might be struggling to find the time to exercise. There are a few simple ways you could add some exercise into your day including: taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking your dog , or even getting off the bus a few stops early.
Check The Air Quality
Unfortunately, due to pollution and wildfires, many of us have become more familiar with the impact of poor air quality on running.
- Start with an app like AirNow.gov and see what the current air quality level is before starting your run.
- If its yellow, maybe do a short or very easy run.
- Anything orange or red, move your workout indoors to avoid asthma issues.
- Running after it rains is often a great way to get a good clean air run.
- Try running on trails to avoid any additional pollutants from cars.
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Face Your Asthma Anxieties
If youre fighting fears about getting out of breath or having an asthma attack, theres lots you can do.
- Exercise with a friend give them a copy of your asthma action plan and talk them through what to do if symptoms come on
- Start slowly and build up, staying in your comfort zone. Remember, every little bit of movement counts, even if thats just walking more briskly
- A course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may also could help talk to your GP.
It did take a long time to get over my anxieties and fear of constantly feeling tight-chested and unable to participate. Set yourself small achievable goals perhaps meet with a friend for a walk then build up slowly. Asthma UK Readers Panel member
Get Active With Asthma
- Dont let your asthma stop you being physically active.
- Choose an activity you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity every day or most days.
- Consider getting involved in structured exercise people with asthma who participate in physical training feel better.
- Having asthma shouldnt stop you from getting involved in sports or physical activity, whether just for fun or more competitively. Many of our Olympic athletes have asthma.
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Who Gets Asthma And How Common Is It
There are approximately 2.7 million Australians estimated to have asthma. That’s 1 in 9 of us.
Although asthma can affect anyone at any age, research shows that in children under the age of 14, it is more common among boys than girls. Meanwhile, in adults aged over 25, it’s more common in women than men.
The Problem With Exercising With Asthma
One problematic area of an asthmatics life is that of exercising. When we exercise, we breathe deeper and more heavily as our body tries to get more oxygen flowing into our red blood cells. Asthmatics get asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing from having sensitive airways that get easily inflamed when they come into contact with something that they dont like. When we exercise this heavy breathing increases the airflow in our airways, increasing the chance that our airway lining gets irritated and becomes inflamed.
This is often a disparaging problem that discourages people, especially children, from engaging in sport and fitness. Despite the apparent risks, those with asthma should still be exercising regularly, as the overall health benefits of keeping fit and healthy is worth the risk, the risk being very little if you carry the appropriate asthma medication such as an inhaler around with you all the time.
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Why Exercise Can Be A Trigger
Breathing through the nose warms up the air we breathe in. But when we exercise, particularly exercise that is more strenuous like running, we usually breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. This means were breathing in air thats colder and drier than normal.
If you have asthma, breathing in this cold, dry air causes your airways to tighten and get narrower. This can trigger your asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.
You may come across other triggers when you exercise too, like pollution or pollen if you exercise outside, or dust if you exercise indoors. Chlorine in swimming pools can also trigger symptoms for some people.
Youre more likely to get asthma symptoms when you exercise if:
- you dont take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed
- your airways are already tight and inflamed because of allergies or other triggers like cigarette smoke
Rarely, someone not diagnosed with asthma might get asthma-like symptoms from exercising.
This is often called exercise-induced asthma, but a better term is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction because it is not caused by having asthma. However, its important to be assessed for asthma if you have symptoms of EIB.
Bronchoconstriction is when the airways get tighter and narrower as a result of strenuous exercise, particularly if someone is also breathing in cold air.
Find out more about exercise-induced asthma/bronchoconstriction.
How To Lower Your Risk Of Asthma Symptoms When Exercising
If exercise triggers your asthma symptoms, its usually a sign that your asthma is not as well controlled as it could be. You can lower your risk of symptoms when you exercise by:
- Using your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed
- Seeing your GP or asthma nurse to review your asthma.
Get more advice on exercising safely and motivation to stay active.
Using your preventer inhalerevery day
Using your preventer inhaler every day can lower your risk of asthma symptoms triggered by exercise.
Your preventer inhaler works in the background to prevent your airways from getting too inflamed. This means your airways are less likely to react when you exercise.
A good preventer inhaler routine can also lower your risk of symptoms triggered by pollen, pollution, or dust when youre exercising.
Seeing your GP or asthma nurse
Your GP or asthma nurse can support you to manage your asthma well so you can feel confident about exercising.
A few people whose asthma is triggered by exercise may be told to use their reliever inhaler before they start exercising. For some people, this can help stop symptoms from coming on.
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Are Sports Dangerous For Children With Asthma
The parents and teachers of children who have are sometimes very cautious. Some even hesitate to let their children participate in sports at school because theyre scared it might trigger an asthma attack. This caution is usually exaggerated, though, and can even have negative consequences.
On the other hand, there is of course a risk that a child who has might have an asthma attack while doing sports. So its important to adapt the childâs physical activities to his or her situation. People such as sports teachers should also be told that the child has asthma â and know what to do in an emergency. Parents can help their children to take their medication properly and make sure that they always have their reliever medication with them. You can talk to your child and a doctor to find out which types of sports may be more suitable than others. But its important to choose a sport that your child enjoys.
How To Breathe While Running With Asthma
Can you run with asthma? Yes. But that doesnt mean there arent some things to take in to considerations as exercise can make it worse for many people.
Running can IMPROVE lung function, but it usually doesnt feel that way when we first start out.
Running does not increase the capacity of your lungs, thats largely determined by body size. But it can help your lungs to perform better over time per a study by Harvard Health. That means more oxygen getting to the muscles and simply starting to feel easier.
Breathing better is much like running itself.
You start to get better at finding your easy pace, which means you start to regulate your breathing instead of panting or gasping.
So lets talk about how to know what triggers asthma symptoms like pollution, allergies, or cold weather and some smart effective strategies for running safely with asthma.
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How To Exercise Safely When You Have Asthma
Medically reviewed by Dr. Nick Rosen, MD on April 15th, 2021
Exercise is one of the most important practices that you can incorporate into your daily routines. From improving mental well-being to enhancing your physical fitness, its a comprehensive and versatile activity that will ultimately benefit your health in the long haul. That said, everyone has their limits and sometimes exercise can feel like an impossibilitythis is often the case for those with asthma or similar lung conditions. While you may think that exercising with asthma is a recipe for disaster, its actually one of the better ways to improve overall lung health and alleviate your asthma symptoms. The trick is finding suitable exercisestypically low-impact workouts or sports with short bursts of activitythat focus on:
- Increasing endurance
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
Running Strong With Exercise Induced Asthma
I have suffered from Exercise Induced Asthma ever since I started running, especially once I started racing and training at a higher intensity level. I didnt realize at first what was happening. At the end of a race I would feel dizzy, nauseous, and weak, and take up to an hour to feel better. I chalked it up to my hard effort and really didnt worry too much about it. But, as these things do, it got worse. Heres a little timeline of my history with Exercise Induced Asthma.
May 1996: I was running a 10k in Yucca Valley. It was shortly after Alan and I had met, and he was going to pace me to a PR. He did that, but I dont remember the last 2/10 of a mile because I was so seriously oxygen deprived that I passed out at the finish line. While I never coughed or wheezed, I was not getting enough oxygen to fuel my muscles, and it took me over two hours to fully recover. For a while I couldnt even lift my arms up. On a happier note, I did finish second overall and first in my age group.
Later that same week while on an easy run, I had my first incidence of a full blown asthma attack. I coughed, I wheezed, I cried which made it even worse. Because my mother had suffered from asthma all her life, I figured out what was going on, made a doctors appointment and got my first inhaler.
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How Is Asthma Managed
Asthma is firstly managed by avoiding the specific triggers that lead to asthma symptoms. This could be anything from dust or pollen, to chemicals or perfumes. Each person with asthma will be aware of their specific trigger and should avoid being exposed to it as much as possible.
Secondly, a doctor may prescribe certain puffers to help manage a person’s asthma. The puffers can be either preventers or relievers. A person with asthma should speak to their doctor about what is right for their asthma management.
If you don’t have one, you speak to your doctor about your Asthma Action plan.
In terms of diet, there are certain foods which may be good for asthma management, including fruits , leafy vegetables and foods containing vitamins A and D. Whereas, foods which can lead to increased asthma symptoms include foods containing sulphites , and processed foods containing artificial flavours and preservatives.
Asthma Isnt An Excuse Not To Work Out
- Warm up and cool down before exercising. This will help you lungs get acclimated to the air.
- Avoid working out during cold weather. If you do, cover your mouth and nose.
- Avoid working out when you have a cold or viral infection.
- Always use your inhaler or prescribed medication before you work out.
You shouldnt use EIB as an excuse not to work out and get exercise. Its likely possible as long as you work with your doctor, find a regimen that works for you and take any medication as necessary, said EXPERT. Dr. Navitha Ramesh is a pulmonologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley. To schedule an appointment, call 800-275-6401.
Geisinger Health Plan may refer collectively to Geisinger Health Plan, Geisinger Quality Options Inc., and Geisinger Indemnity Insurance Company, unless otherwise noted. Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and HMO D-SNP plans are offered by Geisinger Health Plan/Geisinger Indemnity Insurance Company, health plans with a Medicare contract. Continued enrollment in Geisinger Gold depends on annual contract renewal. Geisinger Health Plan Kids and Geisinger Health Plan Family are offered by Geisinger Health Plan in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services . Geisinger Health Plan is part of Geisinger, an integrated health care delivery and coverage organization.
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