Good news for asthmatics: you can still exercise If you have asthma. In fact, moderate and carefully monitored exercise may even strengthen your lungs and overall health. The key is to not overdo it, so you don’t experience bronchoconstriction (or when the airways dry up and constrict, making it difficult to breathe).
This article can help you understand what can happen during exercise and why it triggers an attack, and what you can do to avoid it.
What is bronchoconstriction?
When we exercise, our air passages become cooler and drier. This makes the muscles along the air passage tighten up, triggering asthma symptoms. Eventually the air passages warm up again, but the change in temperature worsens the asthma attack. That is why an asthma attack will linger even after you stop exercising.
How to prevent bronchoconstriction
First of all, talk to your doctor about your plans to exercise. He can help you determine what exercise regimens are safe for you (given the severity of your asthma, etc). You may also want to talk to a gym trainer, who will be able to develop a routine for you.
Since temperature is a key factor in asthma attacks, then exercise indoors or in a warm environment. For example, if you love swimming but end up wheezing for air after just a few laps, then look for a gym that has an indoor pool. Avoid any place that has cold and dry air.
Another way you can manage your asthma symptoms is to stay hydrated during exercise. Drink a lot of water before you begin your routine, and then take occasional sips. And don’t forget to do your warm-ups! Not only will it prevent muscle strain and injury, it can prevent an asthma attack too. Studies show that after warm ups you have a 40-minute grace period where you have lower risk for developing asthma symptoms.
Always carry your inhaler, and use it 15 minutes before you exercise. Keep it on hand if you plan to exercise for a longer period, or try an intense exercise. Ask your doctor about any medications (such as Singulair, albuterol or intal) which can help alleviate exercise-induced asthma.
An exercise induced asthma attack will last for about 15 minutes. Sit somewhere warm, and concentrate on breathing and calming down—panicking will only make it harder to breathe! Go to the hospital if you don’t feel the symptoms are lifting, or are even getting worse.
Photo from newsinfo.iu.edu