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Asthma Health Center

Football Hero Tackles Asthma

Jerome Bettis, the new Sunday Night Football in America commentator, talks about asthma, fitness, and staying healthy.
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WebMD the Magazine - Feature

You won your first Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. Was it tough to retire, or great to leave the game on the highest of notes?
After playing for 13 years and winning in my hometown, it was easy to walk away. I have no regrets. My career dreams were fulfilled.

You are one of 20 million Americans who have asthma. Did you need to take special precautions before playing football?
Yes, I took a nebulizer treatment before every game and worked closely with my doctors and team physicians to come up with a healthy game plan. Plus, I take my meds daily.

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You had a serious asthma attack on the field once, didn't you?
In 1997 I had such a terrible attack I almost died. I was playing in Jacksonville, Fla., it was late in the game, and the weather was really humid, which is bad for asthma. My lungs tightened and I had to be rescued -- I was given a nebulizer treatment on the sidelines. Back then my asthma was uncontrolled, I didn't take it seriously. I did from that point on.

What advice can you give to others dealing with the challenge of asthma, to keep them physically active?
Get educated. Work closely with your doctors to determine how in control your asthma is. The results will help you create your own game plan to keep you active.

Has your diet changed since retirement?
I'm a big guy. I like to eat. I have to eat less now. That's it.

What foods do you go for most, and what do you try to avoid?
My downfall is oatmeal raisin cookies. I stay away from shellfish because I'm allergic to it.

How about your training regimen? Have you taken up any new sports?
I just retired in February! I haven't had time to take up new sports! But I do train regularly to maintain my health.

You endured one of the most physically punishing careers on the planet. Do you have ongoing aches and pains from your career?
Every day. But the key is staying active, loose, and limber.

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