Exercise-Induced Asthma

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What Are the Best Exercises for Someone With Asthma?

For people with exercise-induced asthma, some activities are better than others. Activities that involve short, intermittent periods of exertion, such as volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, walking, and wrestling, are generally well tolerated by people with exercise-induced asthma.

Activities that involve long periods of exertion, like soccer, distance running, basketball, and field hockey, may be less well tolerated, as are cold weather sports like ice hockey, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. However, many people with asthma are able to fully participate in these activities.

Swimming, which is a strong endurance sport, is generally well tolerated by asthmatics because it is usually performed in a warm, moist air environment.

Maintaining an active lifestyle, even exercising with asthma, is important for both physical and mental health. You should be able to actively participate in sports and activities.

Are There Some Tips to Prevent and Treat Exercise-Induced Asthma?

  • Always use your pre-exercise inhaled medicines before beginning exercise.

  • Perform warm-up exercises and maintain an appropriate cool down period after exercise.

  • If the weather is cold, exercise indoors or wear a mask or scarf over your nose and mouth.

  • Avoid exercising outdoors when pollen counts are high (if you have allergies), and also avoid exercising outdoors when there is high air pollution.

  • Restrict exercise when you have a viral infection.

  • Exercise at a level that is appropriate for you.

Again, asthma should not be used as an excuse to avoid exercise. With proper diagnosis and treatment of asthma, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of an exercise program without experiencing asthma symptoms.

SOURCES: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: "Allergic Conditions: Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA)." American Lung Association: "Search LungUSA."

Reviewed by Jonathan L. Gelfand, MD, on July 20, 2008

Portions of this page © Cleveland Clinic 2008

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