Exercising and asthma

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Having asthma shouldn’t stop you doing exercise as long as you do the following:  See your doctor regularly, maintain control over your asthma, take the right medicine, and slowly build up the amount of exercise you do. The same also applies to the level of intensity for all exercise – start with a gentle intensity before trying more vigorous activities.

Firstly, you need to ensure that you can tell the difference between feeling out of breath through exercising, and the symptoms of asthma. Your doctor should be able to advise you about what symptoms to look out for (we strongly advise seeing your doctor if you have any queries or issues).

As stated by Asthma UK, don’t be alarmed if the following happens when exercising:

  • Your breathing will get faster and harder
  • Your heart will beating faster
  • You will feel hot and sweaty
  • You will look flushed

You should immediately stop exercising if you suffer with any of the following:

  • You start coughing and/or wheezing
  • You start gasping for air and are short of breath
  • You feel tightness in your chest
  • If you have trouble speaking in short sentences

Some symptoms of an asthma attack are as follows:

  • Your inhaler doesn’t help with your breathing
  • Your symptoms get worse (coughing, breathlessness, wheezing or tightness of the chest)
  • You’re too breathless to speak
  • Cyanosis (this is a blue tinge on the skin or lips). It’s a sign of lack of oxygen in the blood and means you need medical attention urgently

So what exercises are good for people who suffer with Asthma?

Walking – Perfect to build up a tolerance for activity. A moderate to brisk walk at least three times a week can serve as a great platform to more intense activities. Walking can improve your control of asthma, fitness levels and lung capacity – all without provoking an attack.

Yoga – At Vivi, we are big fans of Yoga. It is great for people with asthma, particularly because of its breathing control aspect. Breathing exercises can activate more areas of the lung, boosting capacity and lung strength. People who practice yoga for 2 1/2 hours a week should be able to cut down on their asthma medication after about 10 weeks.

Cycling – If cycling with asthma, try to keep a lower cadence that can be maintained for a period of time. This will stop you becoming out of breath and lower the risk of an asthma attack. Cycling is a great, low-impact sport but don’t go trying to be Mark Cavendish on the Tour de France! Take it at your own pace, and if breathing becomes ragged, slow down.

Golf – A round of golf is not likely to induce an asthma attack. It is, however, a good way to get out into the open air and improve fitness. It is surprising how far you actually walk whilst playing golf, whilst the actual swing can ignite the muscles.

Swimming – This is the ideal sport for asthmatics because you’re breathing in air that is highly humidified and often warm. Swimming is perhaps the best of all exercises as it uses such a wide variety of muscles, as well as boosting aerobic performance (lung capacity). However, you should be careful of pools with excessive chlorine as it can trigger an asthma attack.

So if you would love to exercise or partake in sport but have not felt able to because of asthma, think again. Consult your doctor, try a variety of activities, always start off gently, ALWAYS carry your inhaler, and remember that exercise can actually improve your asthma.

Lung capacity can be boosted, stamina will be increased (enabling you to cope better with your symptoms), and you will also have more confidence about managing your condition.


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