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Exercising with Asthma

Controlling your asthma will give you the freedom to take part in any sport or activity. And whether or not you have exercise-induced asthma, regular exercise can help improve your health. So don’t stay on the sidelines. Some of the tips on these pages apply to everyone, with or without asthma. Other tips can help you prevent exercise from triggering symptoms. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

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

There are many ways to be active:

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

  • Strength training uses weights or resistance to build muscles.

  • General activity includes 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 You Have Exercise-Induced Asthma

  • Swimming can be 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 is good for days when weather could trigger symptoms. Try exercising at a gym or at home.

  • Yoga stretches and strengthens muscles. It can also relax your breathing and help you feel less stressed.

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 healthcare team about a treatment plan that suits your needs. Then go for it! It may help to know that many pro athletes and Olympic gold medal winners have asthma. They can perform because their asthma is in control. The same is true for you. So work to stay in control, and keep reaching for your goals!

Exercise Tips

Start by choosing activities you enjoy. If you like company, exercise with a friend. If you like time alone, put on your earphones and have an hour to yourself. Either way, the tips below will help you get the most out of exercise.

  • Warm up with light exercises, such as walking, for at least 5 to 10 minutes. This helps get your heart and muscles ready to go, and reduces your chances of having symptoms.

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

  • Take it easy when you have a cold.

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

  • Be 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 healthcare team to create an exercise plan. A common goal is to exercise 30 or more minutes per day.

  • My regular exercise is:____________________________________________

  • How often I exercise:_____________________________________________

I have exercise-induced asthma.

  • My quick-relief medication is:________________________________

  • I take my medication: _____________________________________

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, Maura, MD
Last Review Date: 11/20/2012
© 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.