What’s Asthma?

As one of, if not the most common respiratory conditions diagnosed in this country, asthma affects approximately 1 in every 2 individuals. Asthma is defined as a respiratory condition, characterized by shortness of breath and an irritated throat, that can sometimes culminate in what’s known as an asthma attack. This can be troubling for individuals, with instant relief being needed to continue breathing normally, without such an asthma attack can sometimes lead to a fatality. Asthma is caused by environmental triggers that irritate the lining of the airways and cause them to become inflamed. This results in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, which can be treated with a reliever inhaler. The condition has also found to be hereditary, meaning that if you have a family history of asthma you are at an increased risk of yourself developing the condition.

Can you exercise with Asthma?

Asthma symptoms are often worse when exercising. This is due to taking faster deeper breaths during this period, increasing the chances that something will trigger your asthma by irritating your wind pipe. Exercising with asthma, therefore, presents some problems; how do I complete my full exercise routine? Will I get an asthma attack mid-exercise? Should I be exercising with asthma at all? Whilst it may be tempting for an asthmatic to skip working out because of the increased risk of symptoms showing, this is no reason to forego the essential human activity of keeping fit, which in turn can help improve asthma symptoms. This is especially important for kids, who at a critical stage of their lives are forming habits and beliefs that will shape them as adults, and who may get into an unfavorable habit of skipping gym class and perhaps starting to get obese.

In short, you can definitely still exercise with asthma, and indeed you should, but there are some steps you can take to limit your chance of an asthma attack, or treat one quickly should it occur.

The Pros of Exercising with Asthma

Whilst it may seem only natural to avoid voluntarily putting yourself in the uncomfortable position of being out of breath during exercise as an asthmatic, the benefits that exercise has on not only our lungs but on our overall health should not be underappreciated. Exercising can help by:

  • Increasing your lung capacity
  • Reducing the chance of inflaming the airways in the long term
  • Improving the overall health of your lungs
  • Lifting your mood and alleviating stress, which has both been known to play into flare-ups of symptoms
  • Improving the overall functioning of your immune system, and by doing so, increases the chances you’ll be able to better handle asthma triggers in the future.

Which Exercises to Do as an Asthmatic

With moderate asthma, there is every chance that you will be able to do almost all sports safely and without too much discomfort. Not all sports are created equally, however, and there are a few sports that favour asthmatics due to their intensity on the lungs. Any sports that require an intense about of heavy breathing, especially for long durations, will not be wise as this will increase the irritation in the throat. Here are the sports we recommend against performing:

  • Long-distance running or cycling
  • Football or basketball
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Snowsports
  • Sports outside during the peak allergy seasons

Activities that don’t require such heavy breathing, either because they are of lower intensity or are more stop-start, are preferred. These include:

  • Swimming
  • Walking or moderate hiking
  • Lifting weights
  • Yoga
  • Golf
  • Baseball
  • Moderate intensity cycling

For additional tips on how to cope with asthma, as well as exploring treatment options, visit Pharmica.

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