Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi
Exercise is a common trigger for asthma symptoms. Many people with asthma may experience coughing, wheezing, or chest tightness during or after exercising. However, most people with asthma can successfully participate in their exercise of choice with proper guidance.
“If your asthma is under good control, you can and should exercise normally. Exercising (when you have) asthma can help reduce your symptoms, improve your breathing, and reduce your stress and anxiety,” says Rachel Taliercio, DO, a lung and allergy specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Having asthma means your lungs are more sensitive to things like cold or hot temperatures, dry air, allergens, and pollution. When you’re not exercising, you probably breathe through your nose. Breathing through your nose moistens, warms, and filters the air you breathe before it gets into your lungs. But while working out, you probably breathe through your mouth. That can be tough on your lungs and can trigger asthma symptoms.
It is better to pick an exercise that is not too difficult for you because trying an exercise that you are not in shape for may also trigger asthma symptoms. Try to do the exercise you have chosen four or five days a week. Don’t push yourself if your asthma starts to flare.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for asthma because it builds up the muscles you use for breathing. It also exposes your lungs to lots of warm, moist air, which is less likely to trigger asthma symptoms. A comprehensive medical review (Cochrane Review) of eight studies of children and adolescents from 2013 showed that swimming increases lung function and cardiopulmonary fitness, without any serious side effects in patients with stable asthma.
Yoga is another good exercise for asthma. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that yoga training over 10 weeks significantly improved quality of life scores for women with mild to moderate asthma. “A low intensity beginner yoga class is a great way to start up your exercise program,” says Taliercio.
Other potential physical activities for people with asthma include
Here are some good tips for exercising with asthma:
- Warm up first.
- Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible.
- If you are exercising in cold weather, wear a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth.
- If you have pollen allergies, avoid outdoor exercise when pollen counts are high.
- Avoid exercising outdoors if air pollution is high.
- Do not exercise when you are sick or not feeling well.
- Include a cool-down routine after exercise.
- Know your exercise limit, and don’t push yourself too hard.
- Always carry your inhaler, just in case you need it.