How To Run With Asthma: Ultimate Guide
As a runner with asthma, I was always frustrated with the lack of information available on how to run with my disease. The internet has plenty of health and training articles for those who want to become runners, but there isnt much written for those of us who already enjoy running and happen to have asthma as well. Suppose youre a runner and asthmatic like me, then this article is for you. I will tell you everything I know about how to run with asthma from my own personal experiences through research and interviews so that we can all feel more inspired to get out there and run!
How To Start Running With Asthma: A Comprehensive Guide
Running is one of the worst exercise for triggering asthma attacks, therefore, it makes sense to think that running and asthma are mutually exclusive.
Combined with the high pollen count and dust levels it is certainly a strong asthma trigger. But it need not be the end of the road.
Paula Radcliffe, a world record holder from Great Britain was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma at a tender age of 14 and 25% of the London 2012 Team GB athletics squad had it as well.
This is clear proof that it is possible for asthmatics to enjoy and even excel at intensive sports like running.
According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, at least one person in every fourteen has asthma but it does not have to hold you back, there are ways around it.
Tell A Friend Where You Are Going
I always make sure that I tell my boyfriend where I am going and how long I expect to be gone before I head out for a run. Even when I take all of the proper precautions, sometimes an attack just comes out of nowhere. Its a good idea to let people know where youre running and how long youll be gone, in the event that sometime does happen to you. If you have a phone, bring it with you and tell people to check in on you at a certain time.
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How To Relax The Airways
Dr. Thiruchelvam says the primary goal is to ensure that you dont avoid exercise. Here are some practical things you can do if you have exercise-induced asthma:
Gaining and maintaining good control over exercise-induced asthma often requires teamwork. A primary care sports medicine physician can help you keep your asthma well-controlled, so that exercise is less likely to trigger symptoms.
Asthma And Breathing Exercises
Exercising can be more challenging when you have asthma, especially if youre worried it might set off an asthma attack. But exercise is beneficial for your overall health and your asthma. In fact, having regular exercise could result in improving your asthma symptoms, as increasing your heart rate helps improve your lung power, boost stamina and reduce breathlessness.
In addition, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of an asthma attack. Exercising also releases chemicals in your brain called endorphins, which can raise your mood and help you feel better.
The best types to do if you have asthma are:
- Swimming the warm moist air in a swimming pool is asthma-friendly. Swimming is a good low-impact cardiovascular workout that helps the whole of your body and especially the muscles you use for breathing.
- Walking walking is a great way to improve your fitness, especially if you need to build up slowly.
- Cycling steady cycling can improve movement and endurance levels, without overstraining the lungs.
- Jogging jogging can help strengthen the muscles you use for breathing, as well as improve your fitness as a whole.
- Team sports team sports that involve short bursts of physical activity, such as netball, volleyball, football or athletics can be good choices to try.
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How Does Asthma Affect The Airways
The airways are the passages through which air travels to and from your lungs. These are also called the bronchial tubes. These tubes can become swollen and inflamed due to an allergic reaction or other factors affecting the immune system when you have asthma. This inflammation of the airways is what causes symptoms of asthma, such as coughing or wheezing.
Symptoms of asthma usually happen when the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed or irritated by something that triggers an allergic reaction in some individuals. These triggers vary depending on each persons unique sensitivities, but common ones include allergens, pollutants, cold air, exercise, infection, allergies, stressful events, and changes in the weather.
When inflammation occurs in these airways, the muscles in and around them can react in a way that makes breathing more difficult. This reaction is known as bronchospasm, and it affects whether or not enough air gets into your lungs when you breathe. Those with asthma may feel tightness in their chest, shortness of breath, or coughing when they have an attack.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
My wife and I started running at about the same time. At the time, she was in way better shape than I was. I wasnt in terrible shape, having already lost 100 pounds, but I was not fit by any means.
When we started to run, we both kept approximately the same running schedule. And by the time she was running a solid two miles, I was just breaking into my first nonstop mile.
I was pretty bummed out about it. Here I was, in the best shape of my life , and my wife was progressing twice as fast as I was. It was disheartening. I probably got kind of pissy about it.
Until I finally wrapped my head around that she wasnt running with asthma. Sure, she was running twice as much as I was, but how did that affect me?
Answer: It didnt. It didnt affect me at all.
So I stopped comparing myself to her and started listening to my own body. I would alter my pace based on how tight my chest felt. Some days, my intervals were 5 minutes long. Other days, they were 10. Sometimes, I had to walk a full 6 minutes before being able to jog for 2.
But in the end, when I stopped thinking of myself as inferior, I was able to push through and reach my goals. At our first race together, I ran a 27 minute 5k, while my wife did it in 31 minutes.
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Running In The Morning Is Better Than At Night
When you run in the morning, fewer people are on the roads, which means you can breathe easier. Running when it is dark out usually means more cars on the road, and cars mean pollution. When its 6 am 6 pm , traffic accounts for about 60% of carbon dioxide pollution, so I recommend you definitely run before 6 pm if possible.
Running With Asthma Be Kind To Yourself
Finally remember, running is hard for most people. Running with asthma is even harder. Go easy on yourself and don’t compare your times to others. If you have asthma, your personal best may be different that others. However, if you can overcome your breathing issues, finishing a solid run or race can be even more gratifying.
Thanks for stopping by today! Come back tomorrow for a easy one pan dinner with little no clean up.
Im linking this post with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday, Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday, Coaches Corner, and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday.
How do you overcome your running challenges?
If you have asthma do you have any additional tips?
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Build Your Strength Slowly And Steadily
Start slowly and work your way up to higher cardio levels. You can begin with a walking regimen or run only a few minutes at a time. Be willing to admit your limits to yourself, and when youre ready to push them, do it in small increments. Its a gradual process that builds your strength over the long term.
Easy Tips To Enjoy Running With Asthma
I can remember the first day that I had my first asthma attack like it was yesterday. I was in
I can remember the first day that I had my first asthma attack like it was yesterday. I was in the third grade and I was playing kickball at recess. I kicked the ball and ran as fast as I could. Once I reached home base I tried to catch my breath, but I couldnt. When I try to describe an asthma attack to people who arent asthmatics, I tell them to take a deep breath, and then try and take five more without letting any air out. Its as if your airways have constricted to the size of a pinhole, and it can be terrifying.
After that day at recess, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. This meant that any physical activity could bring on another attack. So, I now carry an inhaler with me at all times.
Because my asthma was exercise-induced, I thought that meant that most physical activity, especially running, was out of the question for me. Thankfully, however, Ive learned how to manage my asthma and Ive discovered a few ways to help me enjoy running:
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Which Activities Are Ok For Kids With Eia
Exercise is a great idea for everyone, including kids with exercise-induced asthma. Besides keeping kids fit, exercise can improve lung function by strengthening the breathing muscles in the chest.
Encourage your child to be active while also keeping asthma symptoms under control by following the asthma action plan. Ask your doctor which exercises, sports, and activities are safe for your child.
These activities usually are OK for people with EIA:
- easy walking, jogging, or hiking
- shorter track and field events
Endurance sports and those requiring extended energy output can be more challenging. So can cold-weather sports, like cross-country skiing and ice hockey.
But that doesn’t mean kids can’t play these sports if they enjoy them. In fact, many athletes with asthma have found that with proper training and medicine, they can do any sport they choose.
More Tricks For Preventing The Wheeze
Try these recommendations to reduce your risk of EIB while exercising:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or mask during exercise so the air entering your lungs is warmer and more humid.
- Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before the main workout.
- Try to breathe through your nose. Your nose is great at converting air to the best temp and moisture for your lungs.
- In a study of 64 asthmatic children, positive pressure treatment reduced EIB and lung inflammation.
You dont want to mess around when it comes to breathing. Follow your doctors recommended treatment for EIB, but you may find some of these alternative therapies are helpful too.
- Caffeine before exercise may help prevent airway constriction.
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Keep Fit With Friends
Social support is helpful for running with asthma. Tell your friends and family about your goals and milestones to help hold yourself accountable. Let a friend encourage you if youre slacking off. And dont be afraid to boast about your accomplishments because this can boost your confidence and provide positive reinforcement.
If youre running with other people, let them know about your asthma ahead of time. Tell them what symptoms to look out for and how to help you if you have an attack. In most cases, emergency treatment isnt necessary for an asthma attack, but people without asthma dont know. They might panic instead of getting you what you need. Along with your medicine, bring a medical bracelet or set of instructions on a small card to tell people what to do. This information enables them to assist you even if you cant speak.
Its also a good idea to let someone know when and where youre running. That way if youre not back by a certain time and they cant reach you, theyll know to search for you and call for help.
Make Sure It’s Asthma
Just because you wheeze or cough doesn’t mean you have asthma. “There are several things that can mimic asthma, the most common being vocal-cord dysfunction,” says Roberts. “I see a lot of that, especially in younger runners who are assumed to have asthma because they have a wheezing-like sound.” See your physician for a diagnosis to ensure proper treatment.
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Why Do Elite Athletes Develop Asthma
The prevalence of EIA is higher among elite athletes than in the general population , with a reported prevalence of up to 22.8% in summer sports and even higher in winter sports. Such variability may depend on a lack of uniformity in the study methods . However, those undertaking endurance sports seem to be at particular risk. Studies performed in US Olympic athletes show an increasing trend of the disease with 9.7% in 1976, 16.7% in 1996 , and 21.9% both at Nagano Winter Games and at the Sydney 2000 Games being reported. Between 4.2 and 7.7% of Olympic Athletes had a confirmed diagnosis of asthma with a positive bronchodilator or a bronchoprovocation test in 2006, 2008, and 2010 Olympic Games . In certain groups of athletes, such as swimmers and skiers, prevalence is even higher compared to the athlete population in general.
In addition to the type of sport with focus on endurance training, environmental factors are also of importance. This includes cold air for cross-country skiers and organic chlorine products for swimmers . The exposure to the environmental agents is further increased for these athletes due to their heavily increased ventilation during their daily repeated training and competitions .
How Running Benefits Asthma
You might be drawn to any of a number of aspects of running. Some like that it allows them to exercise outdoors with others others feel it helps them focus on themselves and clear their head. Still others love the endorphin rush and positive feelings it produces.
Running is a type of exercise that can also help you achieve several physical health benefits, including building endurance and helping prevent unhealthy weight gain. These outcomes are beneficial to anyone, particularly if you have asthma.
Adults and children who have asthma can improve aerobic fitness, achieve better asthma control, and have an improved quality of life by participating in routine exercise.
If you are enthusiastic about running, there are good reasons to follow your interest. And if you’re hesitant, note that research shows that the prevalence of asthma among recreational and elite athletes is at least as high, if not higher, than the prevalence of asthma among non-athletes.
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Other Exercises Can Help Too
Most asthma experts agree asthmatics should stay active. This is true no matter how severe your asthma is. Some of my asthma friends enjoy walking. Thats fine! Thats great! Sometimes I walk too, others engage in archery and yoga. But if you want to try running, perhaps my tips will help you accomplish your goal.
Breathing Exercises For Asthma
In the same way that aerobic exercise is beneficial for your heart and muscles, breathing exercises can be beneficial for your lungs. With asthma, your airways can become narrow and inflamed making it difficult to breathe, so medications such as inhalers, are prescribed to help open up the airways and improve breathing.
In addition to medication, research suggests that breathing exercises can be a beneficial treatment for people with asthma, helping to improve breathing and quality of life.
There are various types of breathing techniques that are particularly helpful for asthmatics. Some of the exercises help with breathing retraining, some help increase the strength of respiratory muscles, whilst others improve the flexibility of the thoracic cage .
Breathing techniques are often recommended by a doctor or asthma clinic. To ensure you get the methods right and gain the most from it, some are best taught by an expert.
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How Can I Deal With Exercise
When it comes to EIA, staying one step ahead of your symptoms is a good strategy. Ask your doctor what you should do before exercising or playing sports.
Here are some of the things doctors suggest for people who have EIA:
- Warm up carefully before any exercise to prevent chest tightening.
- If you do pretreatment, take your medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
- Breathe through your nose during exercise.
- Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine as prescribed if symptoms start.
- Cool down after exercise.
- Avoid exercising outside during really cold weather. But if you have to, wear a scarf around your nose and mouth or a ski mask.
- If pollen or pollution trigger your asthma, exercise indoors on days when the air quality is bad or the pollen count is high.
- Dont exercise when you have a cold or the flu.
- Dont exercise if youre having asthma symptoms.
Taking medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes is the most important tip of all. Skipping long-term control medicine, if its prescribed for you, can make symptoms worse. Forgetting to take medicine before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even ER visits.
Finally, always keep your inhaler with you when exercising. You may feel shy about your asthma, but dont hide it from coaches or teammates they can help you. Coaches especially should know about your asthma so they will understand if you need to take a break and use your medicine.