Winter Exercise Tips for Asthmatics


Exercise is a common trigger for asthma and may cause symptoms in 80-90% of asthmatics. Cold dry winter air can also make breathing difficult for asthmatics. Shortness of breath, wheezing, cough or chest tightness may result. The symptoms can occur during, just after or several hours after exercise.

Here are a few exercise tips for asthmatics during the winter season.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise in cold dry air, as cooling and drying of the bronchial airways can trigger an asthma attack.
  • Avoid winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating, especially if your asthma is not properly controlled.
  • Use your bronchodilator inhalers, such as albuterol, 20 minutes prior to exercise.
  • Keep your inhalers warm in order to avoid a cold aerosol spray.
  • Be sure to "warm-up" and "cool-down" after strenuous exercise.
  • When exercising in cold air, wear a scarf or facemask over the nose and mouth to warm the air you are breathing.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of liquids before and after exercise to prevent drying of the airways.
  • Exercise indoors when outdoor temperatures drop.
  • The best year-round exercise for asthmatics is swimming in an indoor heated pool.

For more, please visit the Asthma Center of

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Last Editorial Review: 4/5/2002