Asthma and Exercise … is it holding you back?


A lot of us would do anything to avoid working out, but the truth is, we shouldn’t. For some of us, exercise-induced asthma happens rapidly after beginning cardiovascular workouts, as any type of asthma is caused by the narrowing of the airways in your lungs.

Did you know, like most people, those with exercise-induced asthma can still enjoy exercise as a normal part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there are professional athletes including David Beckham, with the very same condition who prove that asthma is no excuse not to lace up those runners and raise your heart-rate. Here are a few reasons why asthma shouldn’t stop you from working out, as well as some tips to help you keep it under control.

Exercise can prevent asthma complications:

Although more research is needed, current studies show cardio exercise improves asthma symptoms and lung function. One hypothesis states aerobic exercise helps stretch the lungs and bronchial tubes, which may decrease resistance to breathing overtime.

Another reason exercise can reduce your asthma is stress, a common trigger for asthma. Stress comes in many forms, and not all of it is ‘bad’. ‘Good’ stress can come from physical exertion, reducing the effect that day-to-day ‘bad’ stress has on your body. Study after study has shown that people who get aerobic exercise handle stressful situations better than those who do not.  For asthmatics, this may mean fewer attacks and reduced medication usage.

Exercise helps prevent obesity and other diseases:

People who work out regularly tend to weigh less than those who don’t. As you were probably aware of this already,  you might be wondering what it has to do with your asthma? For starters, obesity has been known to affect general lung function for decades. In studies, obese asthmatics have poorer lung function compared to their healthy-weight counterparts. The good news here is that the negative affects of obesity on asthma are generally reduced with weight loss. So tie up those laces, improve your asthma, and reduce your doctor visits and medication bills.

Improving YOUR quality of life:

The effects of gaining control of exercise-induced asthma and participating regular exercise will spread to all corners of life.  Not only will you feel better at a lighter weight and when you are not stressed, but you won’t have worry about your breathing when you go on a rainforest walk with your friend, or when you want to go for a run when the mood or bad stress builds up. How does a night of dancing with your friend sound without coughing and wheezing for fresh air? All these activities should be physically feasible, symbolise freedom and maximise your happiness, which will overall improve your quality of life.  Tell us how your life would be improved by controlling your asthma!?

Quick tips for management:

Although there is no cure for asthma, with good management, people with asthma can lead normal, active lives. If you’re unsure where to start, swimming is one of the best activities. This is because it involves breathing warm, moist air that won’t irritate your lungs. Activities that involve short burst of activity are also good, so you lungs can recover periodically. For good and maintainable asthma management while exercising, you should:

  • Follow your personal written asthma plan, developed with your doctors.

  • Use your medications as instructed by your doctor, even when you feel well.

  • Make sure you use your inhaler correctly.

  • Know your triggers, and avoid these where possible (especially particular foods, medications, chemicals and pollutants).

  • Remember whilst exercise can be a trigger for an attack, with the right approach it can be managed effectively and can limit the impact of asthma in life.

  • Always warm up and cool down before and after exercise with 10–20 minutes of light exercise and stretches.

  • Be familiar with first aid procedures for managing emergencies and ensure that family and friends are also familiar with these.

  • Remember that asthma shouldn’t stop you from achieving your goals in life, whatever these might be. You just need to plan effectively. Make short term goals and reward yourself along the way.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are unsure about yours or your childs asthma condition and the capability in playing sport — always consult your physician.

**In case of emergency call 000

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