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Tips to Exercising With Asthma

Tips to Exercising With Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition where your airways can become swollen, narrow, or blocked with mucus, which makes it harder to breathe.

    People with asthma lead normal, active lives, play sports, and can become world class athletes (like Olympic multiple medalists Susan Auch and Curt Harnett). Being active will not only keep your heart and muscles healthy, it can help strengthen your breathing muscles too. Here are tips and advice on being active with asthma.

What to do Before Being Active

  • Keep taking your daily medication if that is what you normally do
  • Carry your emergency inhaler with you; look for active clothing wear that has a zip pocket
  • A good warmup is crucial. Not only does it prepare you for activity, but it may induce a refractory period (a period of time where it is unlikely you’ll get asthma symptoms).

Asthma attacks can happen during activity. Read this and prepare your action plan.

How to Prevent Asthma Symptoms

Avoid environments that could trigger your asthma. Triggers can be: pollen, air pollution, hot/muggy or cold/dry environments. A few tips:

  • For activities in cold, dry conditions, (such as cross country skiing, running in the fall or winter, or snowshoeing) wear a scarf or tube neck warmer around your mouth and nose to help humidify the air before it reaches your lungs. For snowbirds escaping winter to a hot and very dry climate, this could also irritate your airways. Working out indoors or at a time of day when there’s more humidity (i.e. mornings) are ways around this.
  • Do your activity in an air conditioned facility (such as gym or mall) where there is no exposure to pollen or pollution.
  • Do your activity early in the morning or in evening when the temperature is cooler and there is less air pollution.

What to do After Being Active

  • Like everyone else who is active, always finish your physical activity with a cool down session of 5-10 minutes of light intensity exercise.

Most activities can be enjoyed with a few considerations. For our readers with asthma (or who know someone living with asthma) what are your favourite physical activities?


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Recommended resources

The Lung Association: Asthma
Sports Med BC: Asthma

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