Are Summer Sports and Asthma a Good Combination for Kids?

  • Parents of kids with asthma might wonder this time of year if summer sports and asthma mix well.

     

    It's a reasonable question and the good news is that kids with asthma should still be able to have healthy, active summers, even when they want to play sports... provided they are being treated for their asthma and it is under control.

     

    Not only is it important for kids with asthma to be able to play just like all their friends, sports are actually good for them in many ways beyond the obvious fact that exercise will help strengthen their airways, helping them to work better. Sports will:

    • Improve their fitness level
    • Help them maintain a healthy weight
    • Provide opportunities for social interaction & teamwork
    • Promote better mental health
    • Enable them to sleep better

    Even many Olympic-caliber athletes have asthma, so there is no reason for you to let asthma stand in the way of your child participating in summer sports, as long as asthma is under control.

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    First Steps Towards Success With Summer Sports

     

    Before you run off to enroll your child in that local soccer or T-ball program, however, here are a few words of advice. Make sure your child has a personalized asthma management plan that has been developed in partnership with his or her doctor.

     

    This plan generally includes a daily controller medicine, such as an inhaled steroid, that is designed to keep asthma symptoms in check. Plus, it should also include a quick-relief inhaler that can be used if asthma symptoms do worsen during exercise.

     

    Which Summer Sports Are Best for Kids Who Have Asthma?

     

    In general, summer sports that are higher intensity and more or less continuous, meaning it is difficult to take breaks, are generally not as well-tolerated by kids with asthma. Sports that must be conducted in warm, humid environments may also be tolerated poorly by your child.

     

    Summer sports that tend to be easier for kids with asthma to tolerate include:

    • Swimming for fun, or if for competition, then short-range events
    • Leisurely biking (not racing, again unless the distance is short)
    • Walking
    • Baseball
    • Football
    • Gymnastics
    • Short track events or field events

    These sports are less well-tolerated because they tend to be of longer duration and require greater effort:

    • Soccer
    • Competitive cycling
    • Basketball
    • Long-distance running

    Also, no one who has asthma, kids included, should ever attempt scuba diving. It's too risky that they might have an asthma attack while deep underwater and unable to quickly access and/or use a rescue inhaler.

     

    Some Additional Tips

     

    Most summer sports are conducted outside, so if your child is sensitive to pollen and/or summer molds, then you'll want to keep track  of your local pollen/mold counts. When counts are high, your child should be kept indoors as much as possible, especially during the early morning hours or on hot, dry, windy days. Those are the times when pollen counts are at their very highest.

     

    Also, be sure you inform your child's coaches or playground staff about your child's asthma and share the Asthma Action Plan with them. Make sure your kid always carries a rescue, or quick-relief, inhaler with him or her to any sports activities. As long as you also keep giving the daily asthma controller medicine (and possibly any allergy medicine that is needed), asthma attacks should be rare, if they occur at all.

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    If an asthma attack should occur, then have your child take a break and use the rescue inhaler. If symptoms do not improve quickly, then emergency care may be needed.

     

    Bear in mind that these are just general guidelines. If your child enjoys any summer sports activity and is able to tolerates it without having an asthma attack, then with the proper training, preparation, and asthma treatment, there is no reason to limit his activity.

Published On: July 26, 2010