There’s a widespread fear of introducing a sports activity into the lives of children and adults with asthma, which is typically caused by a simple lack of understanding. Although asthma is one of the more common health issues, and even though it’s incurable, it can be managed, and it shouldn’t prevent anyone from regular physical activity.
Just like with any other condition, exercising in a controlled environment and following a set of simple guidelines can benefit anyone, and people with asthma are no exception. Let’s do some myth-busting!
First of all, asthma is a chronic condition that causes an inflammation of airways, making them more susceptible to allergic reactions. The bronchial tubes become narrow and swollen, causing difficulty breathing, chest tightness, more mucus, wheezing and coughing, especially at night and in the morning.
Naturally, this can make it more difficult for a person to take part in an activity, especially if it requires a high level of continuous endurance, such as running or cycling, which are more likely to cause an asthma attack. On the other hand, stop-and-go activities that allow regular breaks without compromising the difficulty of the exercise adapted to your needs can improve not only your overall fitness, but also strengthen your lungs and reduce asthma symptoms.
This means that sports such as moderate weightlifting that gradually increases in difficulty, martial arts, lighter activities like yoga, or team sports like baseball and volleyball can all be safely practiced by anyone with well-managed asthma. In fact, physical activity is highly recommended, because it will strengthen your immune system, improve your cardiovascular health and oxygen intake.
Prevent Exercise-Induced Asthma
Due to a large number of asthma attacks caused by intense workouts, people tend to get even more reluctant to go back to their training routine, or simply adapt it, believing that any amount of exercise can cause issues.
The truth is that uncontrolled, fast breathing though your mouth is the main culprit of exercise-induced asthma, due to more dry, cold air travelling to your lungs and causing inflammation. Shortness of breath should not be mistaken for an asthma attack, so it’s important to learn the difference – the former will subside when you take a break and you’ll be able to resume your workout.
In order to prevent a potential asthma attack during your workout, there are several key steps you need to take. First and foremost, you should have your inhaler with you at all times. Warm up carefully before your routine, and make sure you control your breath as much as possible. This is crucial even for healthy athletes, to keep their heartrate healthy, and ensure proper core engagement, let alone for someone with asthma.
Use a timer to measure rest periods between your sets, to see how much time you need to regroup without losing intensity and the effect of your workout. Asthma is no excuse for making your training too easy. Challenging your current physical abilities is healthy, and it will be even more beneficial if you allow your body to overcome your limitations.
It would be ideal if all you needed was a weekly deadlift session to boost your body’s resilience. But once you have a solid workout plan down, there are several other steps you can take to ensure a healthy lifestyle that will alleviate your symptoms.
Since allergies are the most common cause of asthma, having the best air purifiers for allergies available in your home will allow you to breathe freely and expose your lungs to significantly less allergens, so make sure that you keep your living area clean of toxins and pollutants.
Keeping your home clean is crucial, so regular vacuuming, dusting and allowing the circulation of fresh air will make a huge difference in your life. Pay special attention to your mattress and wash your bedding on a regular basis (once a week will do the trick), and if possible, avoid unnecessary rugs, carpets and curtains that will attract dust. However, a house that is too clean can equally cause trouble, so find the right balance that will keep you healthy.
Although asthma is a pain in the neck, it doesn’t have to be a debilitating condition, so don’t allow it to become one, rather do your best to live a healthy life, don’t shy away from regular exercise and your body (especially your lungs) will be forever grateful.
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.