If you have asthma, you may have noticed your symptoms worsen with certain physical activities. It’s also common to have forms of asthma that only arise because of exercise. But, even though it may seem easier to skip heading to the gym, regular exercise can provide numerous health benefits if you have asthma, including:
- Weight management
- Improved lung function and more stamina
- Better immune function
- Enhanced mood and stress relief
All of these positive effects on your health can help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and also lessen your asthma symptoms.
At Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, LLC, we recommend taking these steps to help get your asthma under control so you can exercise safely again.
1. Have an effective asthma treatment plan
Your risk of having an asthma flare-up increases when you don’t have an effective management plan in place. These strategies focus on preventing attacks and controlling your symptoms if they occur. As part of your personalized plan, we may recommend a combination of long-term and short-term asthma medications. Because allergies often trigger asthma symptoms, we may include allergy treatments that control your body’s response to specific allergens.
2. Pick the right forms of exercise
The world is your oyster when it comes to physical activities, even when you have asthma. However, certain types are more likely to trigger symptom flare-ups. These include cold-weather activities, like ice hockey and cross-country skiing, as well as sports requiring high levels of endurance, like long-distance running or soccer. If you have asthma, we recommend exercises like swimming, yoga, walking, and biking.
3. Check the weather
Nothing can worsen asthma symptoms faster than your environmental factors, especially extreme temperatures, pollution, allergens, or dry air. To avoid asthma symptoms, skip exercising in dry, cold climates and when pollen counts are high by moving indoors instead. If you can’t avoid these environments, we can make additional recommendations on a case-by-case basis, like wearing a scarf over your face during cooler weather or using short-acting medications beforehand.
4. Start slow
When you’re ready to exercise, it’s tempting to hit the ground running. But, this approach can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Instead, start your workout by warming up slowly, and don’t push yourself too hard during physical activity. Throughout your exercise program, focus on breathing through your nose as much as possible—this warms, moistens, and filters the air going to your lungs. To finish up your session, include plenty of time to cool-down safely.
5. Track your symptoms
If you have asthma, it’s essential to keep track of your symptoms and attacks, especially during physical activity, including:
- Medications taken before exercising
- What you were doing when your symptoms began
- Your environment during your flare-up
- When your symptoms occurred
- How long your symptoms lasted
Capturing this information can help us adjust your asthma management plan to keep your symptoms better controlled during physical activity.
6. Carry your inhaler
Even if your symptoms seem under control, it’s always a good plan to have your short-acting asthma medication nearby when exercising. If your symptoms begin, follow your action plan, and use your medication as prescribed.
7. Pay attention to your body
No matter how long you’ve been exercising, it’s crucial to avoid straining your lungs when you have asthma. If you’re just starting, slowly increase your physical activity to reduce your risk of triggering an attack. Even if you’re a seasoned athlete, avoid pushing yourself too hard during physical activity to avoid asthma flare-ups.
To overcome your asthma symptoms during exercise, contact us by calling Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, LLC, in Manchester or Middletown or by scheduling an appointment online today.