If you have asthma, you do not have to sit on the sidelines when it comes to exercise or sport. In the past, doctors advised people to avoid exercise if they had asthma, whereas today the myth persists that having asthma means working out is off-limits. Doctors now know that regular, well-planned exercise sessions have many benefits. If your physical fitness levels are good, your heart and lungs do not have to work as hard. Staying in shape can reduce your risk of many other serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Even patients with severe asthma can exercise, If you take your medication regularly, you can exercise normally. There are certain medications that prevent exercise-related symptoms. Vigorous exercise can trigger asthma attacks, so plan ahead by taking your bronchodilator before you exercise. Bronchodilators will relax your airways, making it possible for air to flow freely to your lungs. Your doctor might also recommend a daily inhaled corticosteroid medication or other medications for your asthma. All of these medications are prescription only, so see your doctor or your Nurse Administrator for more information.
Precautions for exercising with asthma
Exercise only when:
- You are free of any viral respiratory infections, such as a cold.
- The weather is accommodating. Cold-weather activities, such as skiing, often trigger an attack. You may be better off engaging in exercise that is done in warmer, more humid environment, such as indoor swimming.
- You are properly warmed up. 5 to 10 minutes of stretching or light exercise can help relax and open up your airways.
- You have chosen your exercise wisely. Less vigorous exercise, such as walking and golfing, may be a better option if strenuous exercise triggers your asthma.
If you start to feel your asthma symptoms coming on during a workout, you may be able to continue if your symptoms remain mild. Otherwise pause and take two puffs of your bronchodilator inhaler. If your asthma symptoms persist or get worse, stop exercising. If your asthma symptoms continue to interrupt your exercise routine, you may need to change your daily asthma treatment.