Health & Wellness

Exercising with Asthma: Get Fit Safely

What’s Asthma? 

Asthma is one of the most commonly diagnosed respiratory diseases, with around 1 in 12 people affected by it. Often resulting in causing an asthma “attack”, triggered by an environmental or other factor, asthma causes the breathing to become restricted and can cause panic, and unfortunately even death. Those suffering with asthma will often have first experienced the condition as a child, and for the most part the symptoms will become more manageable in adult life. But with that said, many adults continue to suffer from asthma throughout their life, so knowing how to properly manage your symptoms is an absolute must for your safety. 

How Exercising with Asthma can be Problematic 

One area of an asthmatic’s life is that of exercising. As we get active, we need to get oxygen flowing in greater volumes around our blood to help support our movements, and we do this by taking deeper and more frequent breaths. Asthma causes the airways to become irritated easily, made even more sensitive when exercising, breathing deeply, and increasing the chances of irritants entering the lungs, causing inflammation. 

But this shouldn’t put you off keeping fit, as can often be the unfortunate case. Whilst there are risks associated with exercising, you will be safe as long as you have the necessary asthma reliever inhaler to hand. 

The Benefits of Exercising with Asthma 

Although initially seeming counterintuitive, exercising has multiple benefits to the health of your lungs and other organs for those suffering with asthma, including the following: 

*Increased lung capacity 

*Decreased chance of inflammation in the airways in the long term 

*Improved overall health of the lungs 

*Improved mood and reduced stress, which have been known to contribute to flare ups of asthma symptoms 

*Improved overall immune system functioning, and in doing so you will have a significantly reduced chance of getting a respiratory infection, then leading to asthma symptoms 

The Best Exercises for Asthma Sufferers 

If you’re lucky, the other tips in this article may be enough to safely and comfortably participate in whichever physical activity you choose, although there are some sports that are more likely to trigger asthma symptoms, which it’s worthwhile avoiding initially at least. Exercises that involve heavy breathing for a long period of time, especially when outdoors and exposed to triggers, are likely to be worse for your symptoms. This is because the intense breathing dries out your air passage, and breathing the usually colder air in your lungs for a long period will increase the chance of irritants aggravating your airways lining. Breathing heavily without breaks doesn’t give your breathing time to recover and stabilise. The exercises that we suggest avoiding until you’ve got your asthma under more control are the following: 

*Endurance sports like long-distance running, basketball or football 

*Circuit training 

*Interval training 

*Long-distance or really intense cycling 

*Cross country skiing or other snow sports 

*Any outdoors sport during allergy season 

Activities that aren’t as heavy on the respiratory system, that include breaks in exertion or are in the indoors warmer air, are great places to start. Swimming is a perfect exercise for those suffering from asthma, as being in the water relaxes your muscles , reducing the chances of your airways seizing up and constricting. The warm, humid air opens up the lungs and allows greater air flow. 

Here are physical activities that we recommend for keeping your your asthma symptoms from getting worse: 



*Weight lifting 

*Yoga / pilates 


*Start-stop sports like baseball or volleyball 

*Leisurely cycling  

Activities that require you to be mobile and get your body moving, such as walking and yoga, are great because they are not overly physical exerting, resulting in you being able to participate in these for longer durations without being seriously out of breath. Be conscious of the seasons though, as even moderate exercise can be exacerbating purely from being out in the cold winter air or spring/summer pollen months. 

For more advice on healthcare or to browse treatment options, visit Pharmica