Table of Contents
- Recommended Exercise Methods
- Exercise's Effects on the Heart
- Exercise's Effects on Diabetes
- Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles
- Exercise's Effects on the Lungs
- Exercise's Effects on Weight
- Exercise's Effects on Other Conditions
Exercise's Effects on the Lungs
Patients with chronic lung problems have difficulty exercising. Shortness of breath is a major limitation in most patients, but in about a third, muscle fatigue is an even greater problem. Although exercise does not improve lung function, training helps many patients with chronic lung disease by helping limb muscles use oxygen effectively, thus improving endurance and reducing breathlessness.
Effects of Exercise on Respiratory Infections (Colds and the Flu)
In people who already have colds, exercise has no effect on the illness' severity or duration. People should avoid strenuous physical activity when they have fevers, muscle aches, or other symptoms of a widespread viral illness.
Effects of Exercise on Asthma
People with asthma who enjoy running should consider using an indoor track, to avoid pollutants and cold winter air. Swimming is particularly beneficial for people with asthma. Yoga practice, which uses stretching, breathing, chest expansion, and meditation techniques may have specific benefits that include stress reduction as well as airway opening.
Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA). Exercise-induced asthma occurs when exercise triggers coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. It occurs most often in children and young adults and during intense exercise in cold dry air. EIA is triggered only by exercise. Unlike allergic asthma, there is no long-term increase in airway activity. People who have only EIA do not need long-term maintenance therapy. The warm-up and cool-down periods, which are important for any exercise regimen, may help reduce EIA events. EIA is not a reason to exclude people from physically demanding occupations.
Hints for Reducing EIA. EIA occurs only after exercise and is more likely to occur with regularly-paced activities in cold, dry air. The following are some suggestions for reducing the impact of EIA:
Review Date: 05/08/2011
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.