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The Asthma Section

Asthma Triggered by Exercise

Exercise & AsthmaPhoto: Hjalmeida/iStock/Thinkstock

People often wonder how asthma will affect their life and in particular, their ability to exercise and play sports. But experts agree: with a combination of avoiding triggers and medication, people with asthma should be able to live active, healthy lives.

In fact, it’s important that people with asthma do exercise, as this helps them build up lung capacity.

For some people, however, exercise triggers asthma. In fact, for some asthmatics, exercise is the only trigger. This is called exercise-induced asthma.

Asthma symptoms brought on by exercise may mean that the asthma is not under control. Talk to your doctor about reviewing your asthma medication to make sure that you are treating the underlying inflammation in your lungs.

If your asthma is triggered by exercise, you may be advised by your doctor to take your short-acting bronchodilator (reliever) inhaler 15 minutes before you start exercising.

Exercising in Cold Weather

-Cold, dry air can irritate lungs. If you’re exercising outdoor on a cold day, wear a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth and breathe through your nose to warm and humidify the air you breathe.

-Keep your inhalers close to your body, since warm medication is more easily distributed
into the respiratory system.

-Choose indoor activities like swimming or basketball if you find your symptoms are increasing outdoors.

-Speak to your doctor as soon as possible. He or she may suggest increasing the dosage of your controller/preventer medications during the winter, or adding a reliever medication to your routine. Then you can get out and ski or skate.

-Be sure to warm up and cool down slowly with vigorous activity.

Exercising in Hot Weather

-Hot, humid weather can trigger asthma in some people. If this is the case for you, it may make sense to choose an indoor activity, like working out a gym or swimming lengths at an indoor pool, during the summer months.

-Check the Air Quality Health Index for your area. If air quality is poor, experts do not advise exercising outdoors, particularly if you have asthma.

-Keep in mind you may also be affected by pollen in the warmer months. Talk to your doctor about your asthma control,  and if it makes sense to increase your medication during these months.

The only exercise that may not be suitable for asthmatics is scuba diving. Talk to your doctor before participating in any new exercise program.

See Also: Cold Induced Hives

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.