Exercising With Asthma
Fairly common, Asthma is a long-term health condition caused by inflammation and narrowing of the airways of the lungs. Symptoms vary from person to person and include difficulty breathing, which triggers wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. While exact causes may not be known, Asthma could be due to environmental and/or genetic factors. For some, it could be a minor nuisance, while for others, it could manifest as a major problem interfering with daily activities and chores. Its symptoms can be managed with treatments.
With medical guidance and following necessary precautions, it is usually possible for people to live their lives well with this condition. This leads to an important and frequently asked question:
Can One Exercise With Asthma?
Yes. If you manage your symptoms well, follow some dos and don’ts, and select the right way of exercising, it is possible to safely exercise with Asthma. In fact, staying healthy is an important strategy overall, and it is recommended that people with Asthma get regular moderate Exercise since it can also help with the management of symptoms. Some benefits of exercise include:
- Improved lung function (helps with symptoms of breathlessness)
- Boosts immune system (reduces chances of infections, including upper respiratory infections that trigger asthma symptoms)
- Better weight management (can help reduce Asthma attacks)
- Lowers stress and elevates mood (can lessen the intensity of symptoms)
- Increased energy levels; stable blood sugar levels (allow more exercising choices going forward, enhancing overall Health & Fitness)
Some Tips For Exercising Safely With Asthma
- Consult your doctor before embarking on any exercising plan.
- Seek professional guidance for your exercise plan(s) from someone (coach/trainer) equipped to work with this condition to help you exercise safely and effectively.
- Avoid high-intensity activities, at least till endurance builds up, or if symptoms are flared.
- Warm-up well before exercising.
- Try to breathe through the nose rather than the mouth as much as possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth during the cold-weather exercise. This helps warm the air being inhaled. Cold, dry conditions are known to trigger symptoms for many. If symptoms get triggered, avoid Exercising outdoors in the cold. (Cold air is dry. It can dry airways, causing them to become irritated and swollen, which can worsen Asthma symptoms.)
- Do not exercise outdoors in poor air quality or when the pollen count is high. Do not exercise when unwell.
- Cooldown (stretching) post an exercise session.
- Listen to your body. If an exercise seems to induce or worsen symptoms, stop. Learn to recognize your triggers (including exercise-induced ones).
- Always keep medication/inhaler handy.
You can safely aim to work out for 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week, and gradually increase duration/intensity, should you wish, and are able.
Good Exercise Options For Asthma
No activity can be considered out of bounds with Asthma, per se. However, some seem to work well in general, including gentle (low intensity) activities or those with short bursts of exertion. Some good exercise options include:
- Swimming – It exposes lungs to warm, moist air and helps build (breathing) muscles capacity while reducing chances of triggers. Even if you can’t swim, Pool Exercises are a good option. (Note: Chlorinated pools can cause symptoms for few, so spot your triggers!)
- Yoga – It provides multiple benefits for asthmatics. It teaches controlled breathing, helping with symptoms while also reducing stress; helps improve posture opening the chest muscles, further encouraging deeper and better breathing; strengthens muscles overall and can provide a full-body workout with controlled breath patterns.
- Walking/ Cycling/ Hiking
Other activities, including strenuous ones, aren’t necessarily bad for Asthmatics. With precautions and under a doctor’s guidance, it is best and safe for an individual to decide options for themselves.
There is certainly a case for exploring Exercise for good health and better Asthma Management.
About Vani Pahwa
Vani B. Pahwa is Health & Wellness Evangelist, and Founder, Body In Motion, who specializes in Functional-Fitness, and Cancer Exercise & Rehabilitation. With almost 2 decades of experience, and certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally-recognized fitness institutions, Vani is the leading Wellness Expert for Multinational Corporations and is a recognized Speaker and Coach. An Indian Classical Dancer, Vani encompasses her learnings from dance to everyday movement making “exercise and training for life, not just events.” To know more about Vani and her premium wellness services, visit https://www.bodyinmotion.in