No doubt about it -- exercise is safe and healthy for most people with asthma. It can even make the condition better in the long run. A growing number of studies show that exercise can improve breathing control and how you feel day to day.
The key is to make the right moves before and during your workouts to reduce your symptoms and ward off an attack. Always check with your asthma doctor before you begin any fitness routine, but these tips can help, too.
Choose the Right Workout
Not all workouts are created equal when it comes to asthma. Some types of exercise are better than others:
- Try activities that switch between short bursts of energy and time for recovery, such as golf, tennis, and volleyball. The downtime lets you catch your breath.
- Light to moderate exercise, such as walking, hiking, and biking, can boost your endurance without making you lose your breath.
- Yoga may improve your breath control and lower stress, a common asthma trigger. One study found that people had fewer attacks and used an inhaler less often after they did yoga every day for a month.
- When you swim, you take in moist, warm air, which usually doesn’t bring on asthma symptoms. If you have trouble breathing when you’re doing laps, it may mean you’re sensitive to the chlorine in pools, which can irritate your airways. Talk to your doctor about getting your condition under control if you want to keep swimming.
Some workouts may be tougher for people with asthma:
- Constant exercise, such as long-distance running, soccer, and basketball, is more likely to trigger your symptoms.
- Cold, dry air makes your airways tighten, so things like cross-country skiing and ice hockey may make it hard to breathe.
These activities aren’t necessarily off-limits, though, so talk to your doctor about how you can do the hobbies you enjoy.
Time It Right
Weather can pave the way for asthma symptoms, so keep the season and time of day in mind when you’re choosing a workout. You may want to head indoors in the winter to avoid the cold, dry air. And high humidity may be a problem during the summer, so it may be better to exercise in the mornings and evenings.
Do allergies make your asthma flare up? Check the weather report for the pollen count and air pollution levels. If they’re high, hit the gym or do an exercise DVD indoors that day.