Running May Be Beneficial
With a plan for managing symptoms, kids who have asthma can fully participate in track & field. In fact, there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that participation in activities like track, rather than being harmful, is actually beneficial.
According to Dr. Mark Scarupa of the Institute for Allergy and Asthma in Chevy Chase, Maryland, track, and other aerobic activities, improves cardio-pulmonary fitness which is extremely desirable for asthmatics. “Furthermore,” he adds, “there is a direct link to obesity and worsening asthma.” So track and other activities that help a child stay fit and maintain a healthy weight should be encouraged.
Here are the essentials for successfully managing asthma and track & field competitions.
- Determine whether the child is healthy enough to take part
- Explain how to monitor the child to ensure that she is tolerating the training and competitions well
- Help the parent to know when the child needs to take a break or adjust medication to manage symptoms
- Collaborate on an action plan to manage the asthma and
- Establish regular follow-up visits to make sure that the asthma continues to be under control.
How To Simulate Asthma Symptoms
If you dont have asthma and you want to experience the symptoms, grab a straw and stand somewhere you can jog in place. Jog for 30 seconds and then breathe through the straw while pinching your nostrils shut.
How to simulate a bit o asthma.
Nice, eh? Hard to PR like that.
Us asthmatics get that tight-chested, air-hungry feeling when the muscles around our small airway passages tighten. When someone says theyre having an asthma attack, this is whats going on. And there are a great many things that can trigger an asthma attack. Dust, mold, scented cleaning products, cat dander, aspirin, cold air, stress, exercise Basically anything. For me, it seems like sand, dust, cold air, altitude, and exercise are strong triggers. You know, trail running things.
I was in full breathing-through-a-straw mode by the time I made it to the mile-45 aid station at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile last month. I hid behind a tree to use my rescue inhaler.
Rescue inhalers contain fast-acting bronchodilators. They increase the diameter of the airway passages and make you feel like youre not breathing through a straw anymore. Right now, my doctor has me using this inhaler 20 minutes before a run and every two hours during the run. I carry it in the top pocket of my hydration pack.
Goal Setting For Running And Jogging
Think about what you want to achieve from running or jogging. Issues to consider may include:
- Getting fit if you’re a beginner, you should start with brisk walking, progress to jogging and work up to running. This should take a few months.
- General fitness mix your running with other forms of exercise to maximise your overall fitness.
- Weight loss adjust your diet to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, wholegrain cereals and low-fat dairy products. Cut back on dietary fats, takeaway foods, soft drinks and sugar.
- Companionship you could run with a friend or join a local running club.
- Competition running clubs may offer competitive events. Most clubs have sessions designed for beginners through to advanced runners. You can pit your running skills against others in fun runs or marathons. Many community-based running events cater for people of all ages and abilities. Join a local orienteering club to combine running with the challenge of navigating through various environments.
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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.
What Are The Best Exercises For Someone With Asthma
For people with exercise-induced asthma, some activities are better than others. Activities that involve short, intermittent periods of exertion, such as volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, walking, and wrestling, are generally well tolerated by people with exercise-induced asthma.
Activities that involve long periods of exertion, like soccer, distance running, basketball, and field hockey, may be less well tolerated, as are cold weather sports like ice hockey, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. However, many people with asthma are able to fully participate in these activities.
Swimming, which is a strong endurance sport, is generally better tolerated by those with asthma because it is usually performed in a warm, moist air environment.
Maintaining an active lifestyle, even exercising with asthma, is important for both physical and mental health. You should be able to actively participate in sports and activities.
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Your Level Of Asthma Control
If your asthma is well controlled, your airways will be less sensitive to exercise. You’ll find exercise is less of a trigger for you.If you find exercise makes your breathing a lot worse, it could be a sign that your asthma is not controlled. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and ask how to get your asthma under control.If your asthma is usually well-controlled, but you’ve got a cold, flu, or other respiratory infection, you could be more likely to get symptoms while exercising. If you’ve been sick, pay careful attention to your symptoms. It may be a good idea to exercise less while you’re getting over your chest infection.
Running With Asthma: Its Easy Not Wheezy
The wind whipping past your face a thumping, pumping heart and that exhilarating feeling: all are the hallmarks of a good running session. For one in 12 people in the US, however, that feeling seems unattainable due to asthma.
Asthma is a lifelong condition that is characterized by a chronic inflammation of the airways, leading to feelings of breathlessness and a tightness in the chest, as well as wheezing and coughing. The number of diagnoses is rising, and so too is the level of concernaccording to the latest statistics, more than half of people with asthma had an attack in just one year.
An asthma attack, also called a flare-up or acute asthma exacerbation, occurs when the airways contract and become even more inflamed, resulting in difficulty breathing. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with the right medication and by avoiding the triggersone of which, unfortunately, is exercise.
Exercise-induced asthma occurs with strenuous physical activity, e.g. running. About 90% of people with asthma have EIB, but not all people with EIB actually have asthma.
Symptoms of EIB include all the characteristics of an asthma attackshortness of breath, wheezing and coughingbut can also feature an upset stomach and decreased physical endurance. Some people with EIB or asthma avoid running or even exercising all together, simply to avoid the often very frightening consequences.
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Need An Emergency Inhaler
Book a consultation with a local pharmacist via Patient Access at a time that’s convenient for you
According to the widely used SIGN/BTS guidelines, for most people with asthma, symptoms brought on by exercise are an indication that overall control is poor or at least inadequate. This means your medication, including ‘preventer’ inhalers, should be reviewed. However, some people have few or no symptoms except when they exercise. For them, the guidelines recommend taking a dose of ‘reliever’ inhaler immediately before exercise to keep the airways open and prevent symptoms from coming on.
Other Forms Of Exercise
Many other types of exercise can also help improve the function of the lungs without overstraining them. These include:
- using an elliptical machine
- taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Other more strenuous exercises and activities are not necessarily bad for asthma, but it is best for each individual to talk to a doctor before deciding on the best exercise for them. The doctor can advise on the risks of specific sports, such as running, basketball, or soccer, and how to manage symptoms during these activities.
People who are new to exercising should avoid high-intensity activities, at least until they build up endurance. Running, jogging, or soccer can be too much for a person with asthma if they are not accustomed to exercising.
It is best to avoid exercising in cold, dry environments. The types of exercise that involve cold weather, such as ice hockey, skiing, and other winter sports, are more likely to cause asthma flare-ups.
It is also crucial to pay attention to the body during exercise. If a particular form of exercise is causing a flare, a person should stop doing the activity until their symptoms are under control.
According to the American Lung Association, a person can manage their asthma by taking the following six steps:
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Why Does Exercise Trigger Asthma
During normal breathing, the air we take in is first warmed and moistened by the nasal passages. Because people tend to breathe through their mouths when they exercise, they are inhaling colder and drier air.
In exercise-induced asthma, the muscle bands around the airways are sensitive to these changes in temperature and humidity and react by contracting, which narrows the airway. This results in symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, which include:
- Unusual fatigue while exercising
- Shortness of breath when exercising
The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma generally begin within 5 to 20 minutes after the start of exercise, or 5 to 10 minutes after brief exercise has stopped. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms with exercise, inform your doctor.
Benefits Of Exercising With Asthma
Even if you have asthma, you shouldnt avoid exercise altogether.
Regular physical activity is essential for managing health, improving energy, and reducing the risk of chronic disease. If you already have a chronic condition, regular exercise can help you manage it.
This includes asthma. With a doctors guidance, regular exercise could help asthma by:
- promoting blood flow to your lungs and heart
- improving endurance and stamina
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Choosing Running And Jogging Shoes
Issues to consider when choosing running shoes include:
- Don’t wear your old sneakers. Poorly fitted shoes are a common cause of injuries.
- The running shoe should bend easily, feel comfortable and have a wedge of shock-absorbing material in the heel.
- The fit should not be too snug. Your foot will splay as it impacts with the ground.
- When buying the shoes, wear the socks you intend to wear while running.
- Have your shoes professionally fitted.
Asthma Attack Triggers When Running
That said, concerns about developing asthma symptoms while running are real and must be considered.
With exercise-induced asthma, it’s obviously the activity itself that triggers bronchoconstriction. In other cases, environmental factors are at play:
- Running in cold weathercan induce edema in the lungs, as well as bronchoconstriction and sudden bronchospasm.
- Pollution and allergens like pollen in the air can provoke inflammation, which partially blocks airway openings in the lungs.
These physiological responses make it hard for enough air to get into your airways when you breathe. As a result, you can feel chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath while running, and your oxygen level may become dangerously low.As such, it’s a good idea to participate in a pulmonary rehabilitation program that includes guidance, supervision, and education about your asthma before you begin running on your own.
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Yoga Breathing Exercises For Asthma
Yoga breathing or yogasana for asthma stems from the practice of yoga. As a form of exercise, yoga incorporates the need to breathe steadily in a controlled fashion whilst moving, stretching and balancing.
Some studies have shown encouraging results and an improvement in asthma symptoms after yoga breathing techniques have been practised. Yoga is also good for helping to relieve stress and, as stress can be a trigger for asthma, it may be good to try both yoga breathing exercises and yoga movements.
The Temperature And Air Quality In The Place You’re Exercising
Exercise is one trigger of asthma. If you combine the trigger of exercise with these other triggers from the environment around you, you’re more likely to get asthma symptoms:
- cold air
- low humidity therefore exercising in cold, dry air outside during the winter can be hazardous
- pollution in the air
- inhaled allergens: grass, pollen, ragweed, etc.
- irritants such as strong fumes from art supplies, cosmetics and smoke
- car and truck exhaust and pollutants from factories, especially sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone
- respiratory infections – a recent cold may cause a person to have more difficulty than normal with exercise
- emotional stress
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When To See A Doctor
Consult your doctor if you experience chronic symptoms or tend to exacerbate more than once in a year.
Keep in mind that a host of health conditions may mimic asthma and cause similar symptoms, making it important to get a thorough and accurate diagnosis.
Ultimately having asthma shouldnt stop you from pursuing your running goals and living a healthy lifestyle.
And, in some cases, running with asthma can actually help your symptoms
So lace up those running shoes and run with it.
How To Help A Runner Having An Asthma Attack
- Crack open a can of calm.
- Ask me if I have my inhaler, and help me get it if I do.
- Ask me if I know what triggered the attack. Remove that trigger if you can.
- Tell me to purse my lips like Im playing the trumpet and breathe that way.
- Make sure Im hydrated to keep the mucus loose.
- Remind me not to take any ibuprofen or Tylenol or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
- Dont let me keep running until I feel better.
- Take me to get medical attention if what usually makes things better isnt working.
Asthmatic sisters and brothers, Id love to hear your storiesCinderella or otherwise. Id like to include some of your experiences running with asthma in Decembers Part 2 of this article. Please comment below.
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Choose The Right Weather And Season
In general, its the best run in humid and warm conditions.
Pay attention during spring and fall.
Some of you might have pollen or grass sensitivity that triggers asthma.
If you have to run outside in the cold, put on a scarf or facemask to cover your mouth and nose this helps warm the air up before it reaches your lungs, preventing it from irritating your airways.
Or, jump on the treadmillindoor running is less like to induce an asthma attack.
Bring Room Temperature Water With You
If youre like me, you need to have water with you when you run. Without it, my throat gets extremely dry and that can sometimes trigger an attack. I have found that room temperature water is best. Its tempting to bring ice-cold water with me, especially in the warmer months, but I find that room temperature water is much easier on my lungs than cold water while Im running.
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Which Types Of Exercise Are Good For Asthma
People with asthma may find that slowly building up their level of exercise reduces the risk of asthma flare-ups during exercise. Types of exercise that focus on promoting lung capacity and regulating breathing can be especially beneficial.
Exercises and activities that offer a person short periods of activity with rest in between can work well. Exercising in this way allows a person to be active and improve their stamina and strength without putting too much strain on the lungs.
The following types of exercise may be particularly suitable for people with asthma:
How Do I Avoid Exercise
Warming up for ten to 15 minutes can reduce your asthma symptoms.3 The warm-up should be moderately vigorous, such as walking faster than three miles per hour, treading water, or bicycling five to nine miles per hour.5 The best warm-ups also include high-intensity intervals, such as jogging, swimming laps, or bicycling more than ten miles per hour.3 After warming up, some people experience a two-hour symptom-free window.
Using a short-acting beta-agonist , such as albuterol, before exercise can also reduce symptoms.3 This medication relaxes the muscles that surround your airway, allowing the airways to open up. Albuterol is taken five to 20 minutes before starting to exercise and is effective for two to four hours. If you have underlying asthma, taking your long-term control medications reduces airway inflammation and sensitivity.
Outdoor exercise exposes you to allergens and irritants, such as pollen and air pollution. When the outdoor air quality bad, try to exercise in the morning. Pollen and pollution levels are lowest shortly after sunrise.1 You can find information about local outdoor air quality at:
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Is Exercise Good For Asthma
Exercise helps asthma in two ways, Dr. Pennington says. It increases:
- Stamina: Exercise improves your lung health and ability to do daily activities that normally make you short of breath, such as walking a long distance or up the stairs, she explains.
- Muscle strength: Stronger muscles make your body more efficient, so you can breathe more easily and do the activities you want to, she adds.
Butwhile exercise helps improve asthma, it can also trigger symptoms. And withouta plan in place, exercise can quickly take a turn for the worse.
Enter exercise-induced asthma, which is when physical activity causes the airways in your lungs to narrow. Symptoms generally begin between 5 and 20 minutes after starting an activity.
There are things wecan do to decrease or prevent your symptoms so you can exercise more easily,says Dr. Pennington. Speak with your doctor to put a plan in place for how toexercise safely.