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Safety tips for exercising with asthma

Asthma can occur at any point in someone’s life – but asthma does not prevent you from living an active life. Whether you or your loved one is an asthmatic, these safety tips are important to be aware of when exercising.

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways in your lungs. It makes the airways inflamed and swollen, causing symptoms like coughing and wheezing. This can make it difficult to breathe.

People with asthma can have normal, active lives when they learn to control their asthma. People aren’t always born with asthma and can develop it later on in life, for numerous reasons.

Sometimes, aerobic exercise can trigger or worsen asthma-related symptoms. When this happens, this is called exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). However, some types of exercise can reduce or prevent asthma symptoms. They work by making your lungs stronger without worsening inflammation.

Safety tips for exercising with asthma

It’s important to speak to your doctor about inhalers for pre-exercise treatment, long-term medication and oral medication that could decrease inflammation.

  1. Always warm up before exercise. When you’re done, gradually stop the activity.
  2. Wear a mask or scarf. Cover your nose and mouth when it’s cold outside.
  3. Limit your exposure to pollen and pollution. If you’re allergic to pollen, exercise inside when pollen levels are high.
  4. Avoid sports with continuous activity.
  5. Avoid sports that are done in the cold.

Best exercises to do if you have asthma

  1. Swimming
    This is recommended because of the low exposure to pollen, as well as the moist, warm environment and low pressure of fluid on the chest. It is important to check that chlorine is not an irritant.
  2. Walking and Hiking
    Choose to walk or hike when the air is warm and pick terrain that is relatively flat. Cold, dry air could trigger an attack.
  3. Sports with breaks – or bursts of activity

Choose a sport that allows some breaks in between, such as volleyball, golf, gymnastics and recreational cycling.

With World Asthma Day on 2 May, we wanted to help create more awareness about this condition and its effects. For more information, visit the Global Initiative for Asthma.

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