Some people with asthma may be reluctant to engage in intense physical activity because they worry this might trigger their asthma, leading to discomfort during a tough run or tiring game. This is an understandable concern. Fortunately, your having asthma doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy and reap the benefits of exercise like everyone else.
Exercise is good for you, and not just for maintaining weight. Fitness is associated with better cardiovascular health, a stronger musculoskeletal system, higher quality sleep, and even better mental health. Yep, exercise can make you happier! This should be a boon for those stressed out from asthma.
These are some things to keep in mind if you’re exercising and asthmatic:
- Remember to take your prescribed medication every day. As long as your asthma is under control, you can enjoy most activities without a worry. If affording a regular supply of medication is stressful, you can buy cheaper medication online from international and Canadian pharmacies. Use a Canadian pharmacy referral service like Rx Connected.
- Ask your doctor for professional advice. If you’re concerned about how physical activity will affect you, talk to a healthcare professional. They may be able to recommend several starter exercises to begin with.
- If it’s anxiety that’s holding you up, introduce exercise bit by bit. Some people are concerned exercise will trigger asthma symptoms. No one can expect to run a marathon on day one. Start by introducing exercise into your day gradually, such as doing 10 minutes a day for one week, 15 minutes a day for the second week, and so on.
- Always have your inhaler close at hand. If you notice symptoms like wheezing, gasping, and a tight sensation in your chest, stop what you’re doing and use your inhaler. Keep an extra emergency inhaler in your sports bag, backpack, jacket, or whatever you usually bring along with you to an activity.
- Talk to your doctor if you suspect exercise-induced asthma. This type of asthma is unique in that it is only triggered by exercise. Your doctor can confirm this diagnosis and guide you on your next steps. Exercise-induced asthma doesn’t mean you won’t be able to exercise at all; you may merely need a few modifications to your exercising habits.
- Check the weather regularly. If you know that air quality, pollen, or pollution are among the things that trigger your asthma, keep an eye on the weather report. Consider moving exercise to an indoor location if it doesn’t look like a good day.
- Inform those around you of your asthma. Tell your workout buddies, coaches, and fitness trainers about your medical condition, and brief them on what to do in case of an emergency. You’ll feel more reassured if there are people looking out for you. If you exercise solo, consider wearing a medical bracelet or other identifier in case you become incapacitated and require a stranger’s help.
- Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout. Nobody’s perfect. Don’t let one missed workout throw a wrench in your routine. Keep doing it! That being said, it’s also healthy to take a break on occasion.
What sports are suitable for people with asthma?
There may be some sports more suitable to you than others. Consider the following:
- This is an easy exercise to introduce more movement into your everyday life, and it’s especially low-barrier for people just starting out. Simply prioritize walking to places over escalators, elevators, driving, and sitting at your desk at lunch.
- Try a team sport. A local league can be a great place to meet like-minded people and make friends. Many team sports naturally have small breaks in between periods of intense activity, allowing you to recover your breath.
- Many people with asthma enjoy swimming. Although there isn’t yet research to suggest swimming empirically improves asthma symptoms, an Asthma UK survey found 37% of asthmatic people enjoy swimming. Perhaps it’s because swimming is a sport that trains you to regulate your breathing. Swimming is also low-impact and full-body, meaning people with more delicate joints and those looking for a full-body workout can benefit too.
- “Chill” sports like yoga, tai chi, and pilates may also be up your alley. Yoga, for example, allows you to go at your own pace, and lets you develop strength, flexibility, and balance while you’re at it.
- For activity that doesn’t feel like activity, just go out. Simply going out and enjoying a gallery walk, shopping trip, or walk in the woods is better than sitting at home in front of the computer.
Learn More & Get Support
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for recommendations based on your personal circumstances. Having someone to work out with also helps you be accountable to yourself. Information for this article was researched from Asthma UK, which offers a wealth of resources. Americans can also find useful resources at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.