Asthma is a condition in which the bronchial tubes become inflamed, tighten or fill up with mucus. This may cause chest pain, coughing, wheezing and difficulty in breathing. Everyone with asthma has a variety of different symptoms that last for varied amounts of time. Asthma can be very frustrating for people because it can feel like it limits their lives. There are certain triggers that effect asthma more than others and asthmatics are told to stay away from those as much as possible. For instance, if pet dander is a trigger for someone they should try to avoid as much contact with animals as possible. The same goes for people whose trigger is smoke, they need to stay away from smoky areas.
Exercise and Asthma Go Hand-In-Hand
It has commonly been misconceived that people with asthma are limited in physical activity as well. It used to be that doctors would not recommend any type of exercise for people with asthma because it could trigger an asthma attack. Since then, research has shown that exercise actually helps people with asthma.
Everyone benefits from exercise, even people with exercise-induced asthma . Exercise-induced asthma has similar symptoms of other triggers of asthma, and occurs usually five to ten minutes after physical activity begins. People with this condition have to take precautions and prepare themselves before beginning exercise. It is still possible to exercise with this type of asthma. Exercise helps to keep all people healthier inside and out. Asthmatics can really benefit from exercise because it can help to stretch the bronchial tubes, allowing more air flow and increases oxygen intake up to 20% more.
What Types of Exercise Are Best
The right types of exercise for an asthmatic can depend on the severity of the asthma and certain triggers. The following are some types of exercise and why they are good for asthmatics.
- Sports with short amounts of exertion. These are best because there are breaks in between the points of fully exerting. Some examples include volleyball, baseball or softball and gymnastics.
- Endurance sports. Swimming is an example of an endurance sport that is great for people with asthma. It helps build up the entire body, the body is not subject to the cold and it does not have to be done continuously. It can be done alone and at someone's own pace.
- Yoga. Yoga is a great way to exercise and also a great way to relax.
- Indoor and outdoor activities are also helpful, (just beware of environmental triggers that may cause symptoms or attacks). Hiking, walking (outdoors or on a treadmill) or aerobics classes are examples of indoor and outdoor activities that are commonly done by people with asthma.
Types of Exercise for Asthmatics to Avoid
Depending on the severity of asthma symptoms, some people who have severe asthma may not want to participate in sports or exercise that is outside in cold weather. Cold air often triggers asthma attacks. Exercise with long periods of exertion should also be avoided, such as basketball or hockey. The sports may start and stop, but there are not longer breaks in between running or skating.
Preparations to Take to Control Asthma for Exercising
- At the beginning of a workout it is important to do a ten to fifteen minute warm-up to prepare the body and the lungs for more exertion.
- At the end of the workout a cool-down should also be performed instead of just stopping suddenly.
- Do not exercise in cold temperatures because of the effect it has on breathing.
- Avoid exercising if you have symptoms of a cold, since that is also a trigger for asthma.
- Exercise at an appropriate level for your asthma.
Exercise can be beneficial to people with asthma. It helps to control the symptoms by conditioning the bronchial tubes and allowing more air to flow through. It is important to continue exercise as it has great physical benefits on the rest of the body. Finding the perfect exercise plan for asthma requires preparations of being aware of the symptoms, knowing how much to do and planning ahead.
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon