Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size

Exercise Doesn't Worsen Asthma

Review Finds Some Benefits, Little Harm
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 21, 2005 -- Exercise can trigger asthma symptoms, but that doesn't mean that people with asthma shouldn't exercise, a comprehensive new review shows.

Researchers concluded that just like everyone else, people with asthma benefit from regular exercise. Asthmatics who exercised had better cardiopulmonary fitness, which meant they could take in more oxygen and transfer more air in and out of their lungs.

"Most people with asthma can exercise just like other people, provided they take some precautions," researcher Felix S. Ram, MD, PhD, tells WebMD.

Asthma Shouldn't Prohibit Exercise

Long gone are the days when kids with asthma sat out gym class and doctors advised their asthma patients to avoid strenuous sports.

In fact, many elite athletes, including more than a few Olympic champions, have asthma, says New York asthma and allergy specialist Clifford Bassett, MD, of the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bassett is a spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

"The figures I saw from [the 2000 summer games in] Sydney indicated that as many as 17% had a history of asthma," Bassett tells WebMD.

But he says even today, patients with asthma may be told to limit their activities by physicians who don't fully understand the condition.

"When asthma is well controlled, exercise isn't a problem," he says. "But the key is keeping it under control."

No Harm, Some Benefit

Exercise-induced asthma symptoms can include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, chest pain, and short-term or prolonged shortness of breath.

The newly published review included 13 studies on asthma and exercise that included 455 patients. Physical training was defined as whole-body exercise of at least 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic training, two to three times a week, over a minimum of four weeks.

The research was reported by investigators with the Cochrane Collaborative, an international, nonprofit organization that conducts systematic reviews of current medical practices. It is published in the latest issue of The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Regular exercise was found to have no effect on resting lung function or the total number of days that the participants reported wheezing.

The researchers concluded, however, that regular exercise can increase oxygen intake by up to 20%. It also improves overall fitness and the transfer of air in and out of the lungs.

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
Madison Wisconsin Capitol
woman wearing cpap mask
red wine pouring into glass
Woman holding inhaler
Man outdoors coughing
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
10 Worst Asthma Cities