10 Tips to Help Asthmatics Exercise
So it’s the New Year and you’ve decided to make exercising your New Year’s Resolution. Yes, you can accomplish this even if you have hardluck asthma. In this post I provide you with the tips you need to succeed.
1. Work with your doctor: I know this advice gets old, yet it’s the old fail safe. You really should work with your doctor and get his okay before you start any workout program.
2. Be a gallant asthmatic: You’ve heard it a thousand times too, and here you’ll hear it again. If you want to live a normal, active life with asthma you must do your best to prevent asthma symptoms. This is best accomplished by:
- Taking your medicines as prescribed by your doctor
- Know of and avoid your asthma triggers
- Create and follow an asthma action plan
3. Choose a workout program: It doesn’t matter what you do, just pick a program and stick with it. Personally, I do the Body for Life program because it works best for me. The only difference is I pace myself a little different than what the book recommends. You can do the same or find your own program and tailor it to suit you.
4. Warm up: Spend about ten minutes doing stretches and getting your body prepared for the workout. Don’t just jump into a basketball game without getting your body ready for it.
Work out indoors when it’s cold outside: Cold air tends to be dry air. When inhaled it dries out your air passages, and this can trigger an attack. This is especially true if you have exercise induced asthma, which 80 percent of asthmatics do. So if it’s below 50 degrees, exercise indoors.
Work out indoors during allergy season: About 80 percent of asthmatics have allergies. Most outdoor allergens are seasonal. For example, ragweed tends to be high in August and September. If ragweed bothers your asthma, it’s best to exercise indoors duirng this season. You can track your local pollen count at websites like this.
Buy a treadmill or bike: This is the only thing I recommend you buy. There will be days you can’t exercise outside, and this may be true the entire six months when the weather is cold.
Dont be a wimp: Don’t say, “I can’t work out because I have asthma.” Dont’ say, “I can’t run because I don’t want to have bad knees.” Those are excuses of wimps. If you want the benefits of exercise, you have to get beyond the excuses.
9. Pace yourself: Yet at the same time don’t worry if you run, jog or walk slower than your friends. It’s not a race or a competition, it’s about getting in shape and getting and keeping your asthma under control.
10. Don’t overdo it: And also make sure you take care of your asthma before you work out. If you feel you’re too sick to exercise, take a day or even a week off. This is where your asthma action plan comes in handy. Monitor your peak flow readings and/or monitor your signs and symptoms of asthma.
11. Start in the gym: I highly recommend if you’ve never worked out before that you purchase a membership at a local health and fitness club. This way you’ll learn how to do things the right way.
12. Premedicate if needed: Some asthma doctors recommend you pre-medicate with Albuterol or Singulair before you exercise to help you control your asthma. Don’t forget to follow the plan.
13. Don’t skimp on serving sizes: If you plan on dieting, don’t skimp on serving sizes. In other words, don’t eat too little. You don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight, if that’s your goal. If you end up getting sick because you didn’t eat enough, your whole plan will backfire.
14. Eat more often: The best way to keep your metabolism working throughout the day is to eat smaller meals more often as opposed to large meals less often. Most exercise programs recommend eating small every 2-3 hours (but don’t forget rule #12).
15. Don’t punish yourself: Working out and getting in shape should be fun. Don’t do something you hate to do. Find something that’s relatively fun for you. If you like to play basketball with friends, do it. If you like to lift weights alone as I do, then do it.
Don’t give up what you love: If you love beer or wine, you won’t have to give it up. If you love chocolate, add it into your diet. Have a small bite every day, or take a day off your diet once a week so you can eat and drink those naughty things you crave. I do this, and I still lose weight when I want to.
Don’t be afraid to eat normal: Continue to eat normal food. If your spouse cooks hamburgers or steak for dinner, go for it. Just don’t stuff yourself. Another motto I go by is: If I go to McDonalds, I’m having a Big Mac. Yet I don’t go there very often.
Don’t let set backs stop you: Your asthma will have its bad days. You will get sick from time to time. Give your body time to recover, and as soon as you feel better you should get right back on the wagon. If you have hardluck asthma this may be more challenging, yet not impossible.
John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).