14 Tips for Exercising with Asthma
As an asthma blogger myself I have become friends with many other asthma bloggers. One thing I’ve learned we all have in common is, along with making gallant efforts to control our asthma, we all exercise.
It’s true. And many of these asthma bloggers are your prototypical hardluck asthmatics, people you’d think would stray away from exercise. Yet even these folks stress the importance of exercising, especially if you have asthma.
1. Be a gallant asthmatic. Work with your asthma doctor to get your asthma controlled and keep it controlled. You can get some good tips how to gain controll of your asthma here.
2. Pretreat yourself. No, I’m not referring to a Little Debbie treat prior to running on the treadmill. I’m referring to taking two puffs of your Albuterol inhaler before you exercise. This will make sure your lungs are in tip top shape before you start. Note: this should be done only in accordance with your physician, although it’s a common recommendation.
3. Keep your rescue inhaler close by. I usually exericse with my Albuterol inhaler sitting right by the radio or TV. If I run on the treadmill, I keep it right up on top where I can grab it in a hurry if I need to. If I run outside, I keep it in my pocket. And don’t skip this step, because when you don’t have it will be the day you’ll need it.
4. Warm up before exercising. Do some stretches to get your body ready. This is an easy step to skip, but as a gallant asthmatic you will make sure you’re body is ready before you exercise.
5. Start out slow. Start out slow and increase speed and intensity as your body adjusts. This will prevent you from shocking your heart and lungs. Start out slow and increase your speed gradually.
6. Pace Yourself: Don’t try to race your running buddy who jets right out of the gate and runs at an all-out sprint. You may get there eventually, but you may not. Running like a jet may trigger your asthma.
7. Aerobic activity: Ideally, most experts recommend doing aerobic activity (vigorous activity) three times a week for 20 minutes. In other words, your feet must continue to move through the entire 20 minutes. You have a variety of options: running, tennis, basketball, swimming, etc.
8. Frequency: Ideally, you should do aerobic activity three times a week. After you do this a couple weeks, you’ll notice your lungs and heart gradually getting stronger.
9. Exercise in warm air. Cold air tends to be drier, and can activate the asthma response. Ideally, the weather you exercise in should be about 50 degrees or warmer. I have actually determined this temperature by trial and error.
10. Find the time. Just do it. For crying out loud, it’s easier to come up with excuses not to exercise than to exerise. You’ll be amazed that once you start doing it, the time will just magically appear.
After a while. As time goes by, you’ll learn your asthma is better. Your body will be able to tough out the colds better without irritating your asthma. You’ll be able to do simple thins better, like running up steps.
12. Listen to your body. If you feel your lungs acting up, slow down or stop. There will come a time when you do too much too fast, and you’ll feel your asthma in your chest. Stop, and pace yourself better the next time.
13. Take a day off. If you feel you have a cold, or your asthma isn’t quite right today, take the day off. Listen to your body. Yet as soon as you’re feeling better, get right back at it.
14. Two weeks. Yes, I challenge you to trudge through a two week exercise program. Once the two weeks are up, youl’ll find you feel so much better you won’t want to stop. You’ll find your able to do simple things, like running up steps, without getting winded.
John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).