A Plan for Exercising with Asthma

If you have asthma, exercise is important but you should have a plan in place to keep you healthy.

Asthma can make it more difficult to exercise or do the physical activities you enjoy. But unless your doctor has told you otherwise, being physically active is good for your physical and mental health and can be done safely. Many people who exercise, even Olympic athletes, have asthma.

Getting regular exercise helps keep your heart strong and your lungs working better. It also helps keep your weight under control, which can be another important step in controlling asthma. Additionally, it boosts your immune system, helps reduce stress and may improve mental well-being. All of these benefits are especially important now during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The goal of asthma treatment is to help you maintain a normal lifestyle. That includes exercising. The key to staying safe when working out with asthma is to take a few precautions to help prevent a flare-up of symptoms:

  • Create a plan. Before you start exercising, it’s best to come up with a plan with your doctor. He or she will help you get your asthma under control using medication or other treatments. You should also develop a plan so you know what to do before you exercise to prevent a flare-up, what symptoms to look out for and how to respond when they occur.
  • Choose activities carefully. Some people tolerate some physical activities without a problem while other activities are more likely to trigger an asthma attack. Activities such as yoga, tai chi, swimming and walking are generally well-tolerated.
  • Identify and avoid triggers. If your asthma is worse when pollen counts or air pollution levels are high, avoid exercising outside during these times. If the cold triggers breathing issues, stay indoors when temps start to dip or cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to trap in the warm, moist air you breathe. Know what triggers your symptoms and avoid them.

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Date Last Reviewed: March 18, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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