Asthma Chapter 11

Keep Moving!


Exercise and Asthma

Exercise and other physical activities should be a regular part of everyone’s life, but it’s especially important if you have asthma. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, increases your overall fitness as well as the health and strength of your lungs and cardiovascular system. Your sense of well-being is enhanced, too, when you exercise regularly. READ MORE

There’s no good reason to let asthma restrict your enjoyment of exercise and sports—historically, about 10% of Olympic athletes have asthma! If your asthma symptoms keep you from enjoying physical activities, consult with your doctor. It may be that a simple adjustment to your asthma treatment plan is all that is needed to allow you to lead a normal, active life that includes regular exercise, sports, or other physical activities. LESS


How Much Exercise Do You Need?

People with asthma should get the same amount of exercise as people who don’t have asthma: at least 30 minutes a day, four to five times a week.


Beating Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA)

The fear of exercise-induced asthma (EIA) prevents many people with asthma from getting the exercise they need and from being as active as they’d like. But there are ways to deal with EIA:

  • Take your long-term (maintenance) medications, if prescribed, to control inflammation. People who have only EIA and no other form of asthma may not need to take maintenance medications.

  • Before you start any new exercise program or physical activity, talk with your doctor.

  • Use one or more of the following medications before exercise, as prescribed by your doctor, as a preventative:

    • Short-acting beta2-agonist (bronchodilator)

    • Long-acting bronchodilator

    • Cromolyn or nedocromil

  • Do warm-up exercises before physical activity and allow time for stretching and cooling down afterwards.

  • Know and respect your limits: don’t overdo it when you exercise, especially when you are first starting out in a new activity.

  • If pollen or pollution are triggers for you, exercise when levels are lowest (pollen levels are lower in the evening, pollution levels are lower in the morning) or indoors (on a treadmill, for example).

  • In cold weather, wear a ski mask or scarf over your mouth and nose or exercise indoors.



What Kind of Exercise Is Best for People with Asthma?

Generally speaking, the best-tolerated activities for people with asthma are ones that involve short, intermittent periods of exertion, such as walking, tennis, volleyball, baseball, and gymnastics. Swimming, although it is an endurance sport, is usually well tolerated because it’s performed in warm, moist air. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for people with asthma because it focuses on maintaining deep, controlled breathing while moving. READ MORE

Other sports that involve long, sustained exertion, such as long-distance running, basketball, soccer, and cycling, may be less well tolerated. But much depends on the individual, and many people with asthma are able to enjoy those types of activity as well. LESS

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.