Asthma is no reason to avoid exercise. Historically, about 10% of Olympic athletes have asthma. Some studies indicate that long-term exercise even helps control asthma and reduce hospitalization. Exercise can help control weight, which can help with asthma symptoms. Patients should consult their doctors before starting any exercise program, however.
People who enjoy running should probably choose an indoor track to avoid pollutants. Swimming is excellent for people with asthma. Yoga, which uses stretching, breathing, and meditation techniques, may have particular benefits.
Hints for Reducing Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA). EIA occurs only after exercise and is more likely to happen during regular paced activities in cold, dry air. The following are some suggestions for reducing its impact:
- Comply with long-term control medications, particularly inhaled corticosteroids, when prescribed.
- Warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise.
- Participate in activities with short bursts of exercise (such as tennis and football) rather than exercises involving long-duration pacing (such as cycling, soccer, and distance running).
- Breathe through a scarf or through the nose. This helps warm up the airways when exercising in cold air.
- Short-acting beta2-agonists taken before exercise are generally considered the first choice, and they last for 2 - 3 hours.
- Cromolyn is another option but it is not as effective.
- Leukotriene antagonists are another option, but they generally take hours to be effective.
|Click the icon to see an image of exercise-induced asthma.|
Review Date: 05/03/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.