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Exercising with Asthma

Controlling your asthma will give you the freedom to take part in the sports or activities that you enjoy. And whether or not exercise is a trigger for you, regular exercise can help improve your health. Some of the information applies to everyone, with or without asthma. Other information can help prevent exercise from triggering symptoms. Be sure to talk to your health care provider before starting to exercise.

Woman and man on mountain bikes, wearing helmets. Choosing activities

There are many ways to be active:

  • Aerobic exercise. This type of exercise gets your heart and lungs working harder. Examples include jogging, swimming, bicycling, or walking. Your exercise plan should include at least one regular aerobic activity.

  • Strength training. Building strength involves weights or resistance to build muscles.

  • Lifestyle activities. These include things like gardening, playing a game of catch, or using the stairs instead of the escalator. These activities may not make you sweat, but they can help you stay in shape. Get in the habit of being active each day.

If exercise is a trigger

  • Swimming. This is a good choice because the air is usually warm and moist and may be less likely to trigger a flare-up. Be aware, though, that chlorine fumes are a trigger for some people.

  • Indoor exercise. Exercising indoors is good for days when weather might trigger symptoms. Try exercising at a gym or at home.

  • Yoga.  Yoga provides both stretching and strengthening exercises. It also helps you relax and feel less stressed.

A word about asthma and athletes

As long as your asthma is under control, there’s almost no limit to what you can do. So if you’re an athlete, talk with your health care provider about a treatment plan that's right for you. It may help to know that many professional athletes and Olympic gold medal winners have asthma. They are able to perform well only if their asthma is under control. The same is true for you.

Exercise tips

Make it fun! Choose activities you enjoy. Exercise with a friend. Listen to music. Get the most out of exercise by:

  • Warming up for at least 5 to 10 minutes. This helps get your heart and muscles ready to go, and reduces your chances of having symptoms.

  • Drinking plenty of water when you exercise. This keeps your body from losing too much fluid.

  • Taking it easy when you have a cold or other illness.

  • Cooling down after your exercise for at least 5 minutes. Move at a slower pace. Then finish by stretching.

  • Being cautious in cold weather. You may need to increase the length of your warm-up. To play it really safe, exercise indoors when it’s cold out.

My exercise plan

Work with your health care provider to create an exercise plan. A common goal is to exercise 30 or more on most days.

  • My regular exercise is:____________________________________________

  •  I exercise for_______________ minutes _________times per week.

Exercise is a trigger for me.

  • My quick-relief medication is:________________________________

  • I take my quick-relief medication: _____________________________________

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 6/16/2014
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.