Exercising with Asthma
Since breathing is so important to any physical activity, it is natural for people with asthma to be hesitant about starting an exercise program. The fear of an attack or aggravated symptoms is valid. Still, whether you have asthma or not, at least 30 minutes of exercise three to four times each week is recommended for overall health and longevity. So, how do you make sure you are getting enough physical activity, and which exercises are the best for you and your asthma?
Asthma and Sports
Many sports make great exercises for people with asthma, but some that are better than others. For example, choose activities that are short in intensity, such as baseball, volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling. These sports feature resting periods in between the activity, which is helpful in maintaining healthy breathing patterns. They also allow you the benefits of being active without straining your respiratory system in the process. Other sports can be more intensive and harmful for your asthma because they feature long periods of physical activity. Examples of these are basketball, soccer, distance running, and hockey. With these sports, there is more running or non-stop movement, and that is why they could lead to complications with your ability to breathe correctly. In addition, cold weather activities, including cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice hockey, are not recommended.
Asthma and Exercise
Do not let asthma stop you from enjoying your favorite exercises. Walking, either outside or on a treadmill, is excellent for your cardiovascular system and heart, along with indoor and outdoor bicycle riding. If you are a runner, stay with shorter distances or use a treadmill to make sure that you are not overdoing it. Again, the key is to focus on the length of time and the intervals of breathing required for the activity. Aerobics is especially recommended for people with asthma and can be a fun way to stay in shape. Swimming is another exercise for asthma patients as it works multiple areas of the body at once. A warmer environment helps swimmers with asthma reduce the chances of recurring symptoms, and the water relaxes their joints and muscles. Use your inhaler before you begin any form of exercise and do warm-up/cool-down stretching as well. The instant you feel any breathing irregularities, or if you have an attack, stop the activity immediately. Then, if necessary, use your inhaled medication to return your breathing to normal. Once your symptoms disappear, you can go back to the exercise you were doing, but if they continue, you need to reapply the medication and consult with your doctor.
Things to Avoid
With asthma, temperature has the potential to trigger symptoms, so you should avoid exercising outdoors when it is cold. If you do choose to be outside for an activity, do not stay out for extended lengths, and wear a scarf or some type of a mask as protection for your mouth and nose areas. For people with allergic reactions, it is advised to remain indoors if the weather contains a high level of pollen or pollution. Check with a physician to determine which exercise program is right for you. Trying to perform any indoor or outdoor activity when you have an infection or other illness might increase your asthma symptoms. In general, rely on your judgment when you are deciding how much or how little exercise you engage in, and listen to the signs that your body provides to have a safe, healthy experience.