A strong, healthy body is one your best proactive defenses against disease. While exercising can cause shortness of breath in anyone, some people experience asthma episodes. During instances like these, you may have respiratory difficulty that is triggered by aerobic exercise that lasts for several minutes. The muscle bands around the airways respond to changes in temperature and humidity by contracting, which narrows the airway. A strong, healthy body is one your best proactive defenses against disease. While exercising can cause shortness of breath in anyone, some people experience asthma episodes. During instances like these, you may have respiratory difficulty that is triggered by aerobic exercise that lasts for several minutes. The muscle bands around the airways respond to changes in temperature and humidity by contracting, which narrows the airway.
Whatever the trigger may be, exercise induced asthma can be controlled and monitored with proper treatment and preventative measures.
What are the Causes?
Exercise induced asthma is triggered by varying factors, which can include:
- Cold and dry air
- Air pollution
- High pollen counts
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Respiratory infections or other lung disease
- Activities with extended periods of deep breathing such as long distance running, swimming or soccer.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms usually do not occur immediately at the start of exercise. The symptoms may begin during exercise and will usually escalate 5 to 10 minutes after stopping exercise. Symptoms often resolve in another 20 to 30 minutes, and can range from mild to severe.
Signs and symptoms of exercise induced asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
- Decreased endurance
- Fatigued and prolonged recovery
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
What Exercises Increase and Lessen Asthma Symptoms?
Activities that involve high interval, high intensity activities such as:
- Sports or activities in cold/dry weather (i.e. ice hockey, skiing, ice skating, snowboarding)
- Sports or activities that require constant activity (i.e. long distance running, soccer)
Activities that involve short, intermittent periods of exertion are generally recommended for people with symptoms of asthma. These include team sports and physical activities such as:
Yoga focuses on breath control and techniques, especially with breathing techniques to help activate more areas of the lung.
Walking 30 minutes a day with 5 minutes warm up and 5-minute cool down helps improve asthma control and fitness levels without provoking an attack.
Baseball activates your heart rate and breathing rate with its spurts of running and down time.
Biking leisurely isn’t likely to exacerbate your asthma, but be cautious of increasing your pace and treading over steep hills as it requires heavy breathing.
Golfing is staggered, alternating swings with walking to the next tee. While it is less likely to induce asthma attack, be cautious of pollen counts if your asthma is triggered by allergies.
Swimming is an ideal sport for asthmatics because you’re breathing in humidified and warm air.
Activities that involve long periods of exertion, such as soccer, long distance running, basketball, and field hockey, are not recommended but can be tolerated. These also include cold-weather sports such as ice hockey, cross-country skiing and ice skating, which may pose challenges.
What Are the Warning Signs?
When you exercise, it’s normal for your heart rate to increase and your breathing to become quicker. Exercise as needed and listen to your body. If you start having asthma symptoms, you need to stop the activity and take your reliever inhaler to avoid symptoms getting worse.
Stop exercising and follow your action plan as instructed by your physician if you are:
- Gasping for air or short of breath
- Feel tightness in the chest
- Have trouble speaking in short sentences
If any of these symptoms worsen or your reliever isn’t helping, seek immediate medical attention.
Schedule a Consultation
Remember: Asthma is not a reason to avoid exercise. With proper diagnosis and an effective treatment, you should be able to maintain a normal and healthy lifestyle.
To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option for you. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today for treatment options.