Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on January 22, 2022
Yes, You Can Work Out

Yes, You Can Work Out

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It can keep you in good shape. As long as your asthma is under control, you should be able to do most types of exercise. Follow these tips to get the most from your workouts, and stay safe if an attack strikes while you hit the gym.

Go Cardio

Go Cardio

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Jogging, swimming, bicycling, walking -- anything that makes your heart beat faster -- can help.  Stick to moderate intensity. What does that mean? You should be able to talk while you do it. Also, be aware of your personal triggers, and knowing your body and about your asthma. Exercise may not be an issue, but the circumstances around exercise may be.

Yoga and Weight Training

Yoga and Weight Training

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Both things build muscle and blast a common asthma trigger: stress. Keep it to moderate intensity. If you lift weights, 10 to 15 reps is a good target. Don’t hold your breath when you hold poses or lift weights.

Like Team Sports? Go for the Burst!

Like Team Sports? Go for the Burst!

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If you’re a team player, sign up for sports that have quick bursts of energy, like baseball or football. Sports that are constantly go-go-go, like soccer, basketball, or long-distance track, are more likely to trigger your asthma.

Swimming? Maybe

Swimming? Maybe

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It can be a good way to exercise because the air is warm and moist at a pool. But for some people, chlorine triggers asthma.  Ask your doctor if it’s OK for you to hit the water.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Warm Up and Cool Down

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Start slowly and stretch your muscles to get your body ready to work out. As you finish up, slow down and stretch again. Take 10 minutes each for warm-up and cool down. Try not to stop suddenly.

Avoid Pollen

Avoid Pollen

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The great outdoors isn’t great for asthma if there’s a lot of pollen in the air. Check the weather report for pollen counts and air quality. If it isn’t good, head for the gym instead. Do you have seasonal allergies like hay fever? Make sure you take your allergy medications, too.

Avoid Pollution

Avoid Pollution

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Stay away from busy roads and areas near factories. If it’s smoggy or the air quality report isn’t good, head indoors. But make sure the air is clean inside, too. Cigarette smoke, dust, and pet dander can trigger asthma.

Guard Against the Cold

Guard Against the Cold

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Chilly air can trigger asthma. If you go outside to work out when it’s cold, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. It will help warm the air up before it gets to your lungs.

Run Down or Ill? Take a Day Off

Run Down or Ill? Take a Day Off

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Don't exercise when you have a cold, flu, or other illness. You’re more likely to have an attack if you work out while you’re under the weather.

Take Your Asthma Meds

Take Your Asthma Meds

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Ask your doctor if you should take inhaled asthma medication before you work out. Always have your rescue inhaler with you. Make sure you take your regular asthma medications as prescribed.

Tell People About Your Asthma

Tell People About Your Asthma

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Other people should know you have asthma. That way, they can see the signs of an attack and help you. Tell your coach, fitness instructor, or exercise buddy about your asthma.

If You Have an Attack

If You Have an Attack

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If exercise triggers your asthma, stop what you’re doing. Next time, try to take your rescue medication before you work out. Stay sitting up if an attack hits. If it ends quickly, you can probably go back to working out. But warm up again and start slowly.

Stick With It

Stick With It

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Regular exercise can lower the number of asthma attacks you have. When one comes, it won’t be as severe. As time goes on, you’ll be able to do more with fewer symptoms, so keep up your routine as much as possible.

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SOURCES:

Canadian Lung Association: “Asthma.”

Fairview Health: “Exercising with Asthma.”

American College of Sports Medicine (exerciseismedicine.org): “Exercising With Asthma.”

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Asthma and Exercise.”

Asthma UK: “Exercise and Activities.”

Australian Institute of Fitness: “Exercise and Asthma.”