One of the goals of asthma therapy is to maintain a normal, healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise and other physical activities. Following your asthma action plan by taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor, avoiding triggers, and monitoring your symptoms and lung function will help you achieve this goal.
Asthma should not be used as an excuse to avoid exercise. If asthma symptoms prevent you from participating fully in activities, talk to your doctor. A small change in your care plan might be all that is necessary to provide relief from symptoms with exercise or activity.
Discuss with your doctor an exercise plan that might work best for you. Exercise should be performed four to five times per week for at least 30 minutes. Activities that involve short, intermittent periods of exertion - such as volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, and wrestling - are generally well-tolerated by people with asthma. Activities that involve long periods of exertion - such as soccer, distance running, basketball, and field hockey - might not be tolerated, as well as cold weather sports (such as 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 well-tolerated by many people with asthma because it is usually performed in a warm, moist air environment. It is also an excellent activity for maintaining physical fitness. Other beneficial activities for people with asthma include biking (outdoors or indoors), aerobics, walking, or running on a treadmill.
Tips to control symptoms with exercise
- Always use your pre-exercise inhaled medicines before beginning exercise.
- Perform warm-up exercises and maintain an appropriate cooldown period after exercise.
- If the weather is cold, exercise indoors or wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth.
- Avoid exercising outdoors when pollen counts are high (if you have allergies), and also avoid exercising outdoors when there is high air pollution.
- Restrict exercise when you have a viral infection.
- Exercise at a level that is appropriate for you.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for both physical and mental health.
Again, asthma should not be used as an excuse to avoid exercise. With proper diagnosis and treatment of asthma, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of an exercise program without experiencing asthma symptoms.