Is it OK for asthmatics to do exercise?

It is important for all asthmatics to enjoy a normal life including doing sports and exercise.

For some children and their parents they think that exercise should be avoided, because of the their asthma.

Approximately half of all asthmatic children feel restricted when doing sport and are not receiving the appropriate medication to facilitate exercise.

For some adults and children it is necessary to adapt which sports you do and the degree of intensity in which you do it. It is only those with severe asthma and who are greatly affected by exercise should it be avoided.

Many Olympic champions and professional sportsmen suffer from asthma however, with the appropriate treatment their asthma does not prevent them from performing at such a high level.

The importance of keeping fit and being sporty when asthmatic

  • It allows asthmatics to live normally and participate like any other.
  • Being active prevents obesity and increase physical strength.
  • Sports are enjoyable and have many social attachments.
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Decreases breathlessness .
  • As your fitness increases, your breathing will less laboured and help reduce the stimulus for asthma.

Advice to follow

  • You must take into account the severity of your asthma and general state of your health. It is not recommended to exercise soon after an asthmatic attack, infection or if your symptoms are poorly controlled.
  • Always consider the weather condition in which you will exercise./gras>If pollens aggrivate and cause asthma symptoms, it would be sensible to avoid open air sports during high pollen counts, unless your hay-fever and asthma is well controlled and your asthma is unaffected.
  • Adapt your level and intensity of sports to your lung capacity. This may be dependent on how fit you already are, your age and general health.
  • Self monitor your asthma using a peak flow diary and peak flow meter.Take readings before and after exercise, recording any medication taken, if it helps and any continuing symptoms. This will help you and your doctor monitor your symptoms and adapt your treatment accordingly.
  • As cold dry weather aggravates the lining of lungs and is thought to cause exercise induced asthma - it would be advisable to avoid running in cold and dry weather conditions.
  • It makes sense to do sport that you enjoy and feel comfortable doing.
  • Always warm up before exercising.
  • Ensure you have regular checks for your asthma and report any symptoms or breathing problems.
  • Always take your bronchodilator (blue reliever) Inhaler 10 to 15 minutes before the effort as instructed by your asthma nurse or doctor
  • Always carry with you your blue reliever bronchodilator medication just in case of any respiratory disturbance and do not hesitate to use it.

Choosing a sport when you are asthmatic

  • Swimming is often advised as it helps respiratory rehabilitation and develops good strong chest muscles. The air is warm and moist helping prevent exercise induced asthma.
  • According to some studies, the products used to disinfect swimming pools can be toxic and cause asthma symptoms especially in children.

The inhalation of the chlorinated compounds used to disinfect water can also cause an asthma attack, worsen a rhinitis or an eczema.

Taking babies swimming in swimming pools increases the risks of respiratory symptoms during their childhood.

  • Jogging, long-distance running is down to the individual, how well controlled their asthma is and if exercise asthma is a problem for them. It might be sensible to be cautious when the pollen count is high the conditions are particularly cold and dry.
  • Running has been found to cause more respiratory disturbances than cycling, but again it can be down to the individual.
  • Horse riding is not advised due to the high incidence of allergy to horses and other allergens contained in straw.
  • Scuba diving is completely contraindicated for asthmatics. Scuba diving is exercise thus has the potential to cause an asthma attack. The air used in the tanks when diving is cold and dry and likely to cause an attack and studies have found people with asthma are more prone to accidents or problems when diving. Finally, it is impossible to use your inhaler medication under water, and when diving a such depths and the time needed to resurface it would be dangerous to consider diving of any kind.
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