Those suffering from different allergies and asthma are usually sedentary as well. The breath loss and random asthma attacks frequently associated with physical effort are some of the reasons asthmatics stay away from workout and fitness programs. Unfortunately, asthma affects the lives of billions of people worldwide and their quality of life is severely impaired.
According to recent statistics, 1 in 12 Americans are diagnosed with asthma. Fortunately, many of them follow a medical treatment and are under constant medical supervision. Less fortunate is the fact that the fear of exercising leads to plenty of subsequent health issues: overweight, heart conditions, risks of strokes, obesity and so on.
While nobody denies the importance of exercising for health, when it comes to asthmatics things get a bit blurry. Is it safe for you to go to the gym or to the pool? How much effort is too much effort – triggering a severe asthma attack? Are there types and groups of physical workouts that can get you back into shape without worsening your asthma? This is what we will try to find out today while looking at some recent research and data.
Asthma and Exercise Don’t Exclude Each Other
This may come as a shock for many people, but the science is clear: an asthmatic can engage in a mild workout program and a fitness routine without further endangering his health. One of the major concerns regarding asthma and exercise is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction – a condition which constricts the tubes responsible for the proper circulation of air in and out of your lungs. But EIB can be kept under control with the help of your doctor. Moreover, some exercises are not only safe for asthmatics, they are also recommended to asthmatics as they help them breathe better and control better their breathing, while working on specific groups of muscles involved in the strengthening of breath.
What Exercises Are Recommended for Asthmatics?
The key-word you need to focus on when engaging in an exercise program for asthmatics is “mild”. You need to start slowly and choose those types of exercises, fitness programs or sports that don’t stress your body, but actually help it gain strength and control.
- Walking: moderate and brisk walking was proved to have positive effects on asthmatics. While half an hour of walking a day is a good exercise for anyone trying to keep their health status, for asthmatics such a program should consist in five minutes sessions of walking alternated with 5 minutes of resting. The walking sessions should be repeated three times a week for twelve weeks in a row. The results are amazing: people following this program actually reduced their asthma symptoms and didn’t suffer an attack.
- Yoga: there are plenty of indoor / outdoor types of exercises that are mild by definition. Moreover, Yoga above all is founded on gaining control of your breathing and working your body-mind balance. Besides Yoga, Pilates beginner workouts and Tai-Chi are recommended for people with asthma. While they don’t stress your body enough to trigger EIB, they do work on specific muscle groups and improve your breathing techniques. Moreover, Yoga also help you relax and increase self-awareness which can only help you manage your health issues better.
- Aerobics: indoor exercises and mild aerobics training do boost your health and alleviate sedentary symptoms helping you increase your lung capacities and control your breath. If you choose to engage in aerobics workouts remember to drink water often and alternate rest sessions with effort sessions of 5-10 minutes.
- Swimming: one of the healthiest sports ever, swimming allows you to de-clutter your lungs of the excess mucus accumulated on their bottom. However, before going swimming in the pool, make sure the water is not chlorinated – regular chlorine pool water does trigger asthma symptoms. You should swim in salty water or go to pools which are specifically dedicated to asthmatics and don’t contain chlorine.
- Golf: there is one issue to consider before taking up golfing – the pollen in the air which is likely to cause allergies or an asthma attack. If you practice golf outside pollen season however, you should be safe. Golf is by definition a mild sport, alternating physical effort with resting sessions, allowing catching your breath and relaxing.
Controlling Breathing While Exercising and Avoiding Asthma Attacks
Before engaging in any type of physical exercise – especially if you suffer from EIB – you should always consult with your physician. Besides the typical asthma medication, there are at least 19 home remedies for asthma relief you can try. Also, inhalers and other asthma alleviating treatments and devices should always be within your reach. There are some general rules to follow when beginning an exercise program for asthma. Some have been mentioned before, but you need to really pay attention to them:
- Always alternate effort time with cool-down time in 5 to 10 minutes sessions.
- Always start exercising after a mild warm-up session accompanied by stretching exercises to ease your body and lungs into the workout.
- If you choose outdoor exercises, avoid pollen season, cold days and high-pollution days. If they cannot be totally avoided, keep your nose, mouth and ears well protected.
- If you get the chance, try swimming for beginners – the humid air you will breathe will alleviate your asthma symptoms – just make sure you stay out of chlorinated pool water.
- Keep inhalers close and stop the second you feel that EIB symptoms get stronger.
Asthma is not the most impairing condition one can suffer from and can be kept under control with proper medical supervision, medication, preventers and home remedies, together with mild sports and physical exercises.
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