Asthma is a chronic disease that affects almost 26 million Americans. Symptoms are caused by chronic inflammation and narrowing of the airways which restricts the flow of air to the lungs, causing breathlessness and wheezing. There is no cure for asthma, but with the proper treatment plan, you can live a normal, healthy life.
Treatment for each person’s asthma will be different, so it is best to talk to your healthcare provider and establish an asthma treatment plan that is best for you. The goal is to prevent an attack. One way to do that is to eliminate or reduce triggers such as allergens, pollution, and weather. While avoiding all triggers is impossible, there are many medications that work to reduce the inflammation in the airways making them less sensitive to irritation. It’s also important to know the early warning signs that may signal an asthma attack. These may be subtle and include uncontrolled coughing, feeling out of breath, and fatigue.
Those with asthma can still lead active lives. Typically, activities with short, intermittent periods of exertion are well tolerated. Activities with longer periods of exertion (like distance running) may not be as well tolerated. Cold-weather sports may also pose challenges. However, many people with asthma are still able to participate in these activities. Swimming can be an excellent exercise for many with asthma because it is generally performed while breathing warm, moist air. Other beneficial activities for people with asthma may include both outdoor and indoor biking, aerobics, walking, and running on a treadmill.
Here are some things to know before exercising with asthma:
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor. He/she will help you determine what activities are best for you. Your asthma action plan will tell you what to do before exercise and if you have symptoms during exercise.
Before exercising, be sure to use your pre-exercise asthma medicine as directed by your asthma action plan.
Perform warm-up exercises, workout at an appropriate intensity, and cool-down after exercise.
If the weather is cold, exercise indoors or wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth.
If your asthma is triggered by allergies, avoid exercising outdoors when pollen counts or air pollution counts are high.
Restrict exercise when you have a viral infection, like a cold.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for both physical and mental health. Remember: Asthma is not a reason to avoid exercise. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of an exercise program without experiencing asthma symptoms.
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