Helpful tips for working out when you have asthma

This story was originally published as part of the Sinclair Cares series. 

Asthma, as many people know, is one of the most common chronic respiratory diseases in both children and adults throughout the United States. The condition can develop at any age, currently affects over 25 million people, and costs the U.S. roughly $56 billion every year in medical bills, lost school and work days, and even early deaths.

Still, the disease is often entirely manageable. Even though almost everyone with this condition regularly uses a particular type of inhaler to reduce symptoms, there are also other ways to keep your asthma under control, such as various nutritional supplements, the use of different oils, and even exercise.

Can it be more difficult to exercise if you have asthma? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean it should be avoided (just be sure to check with your physician before starting an exercise routine).

Jimma University’s preliminary trial on the clinical effects of yoga in asthma patients concluded, “Yoga exercise among asthmatic patients resulted in a decreased number of day and night attacks and use of drugs. It also shows significant improvement in the peak expiratory flow rate.”

Yoga practice allows participants to focus on bettering their breathing habits. The techniques involved in different forms of yoga can also release suppressed emotions, reduce anxiety, and relax muscle tension. While the exercise itself won’t fix one’s actual breathing tubes, it can certainly help to reduce specific symptoms and lower the risk of a future attack.

While yoga can be an excellent way for some people with asthma to exercise, it isn’t in everybody’s wheelhouse. Some people would rather lift weights, run, or take a spin class. Even those who enjoy yoga might not find the practice to be fulfilling enough; not all fitness enthusiasts wish to restrict themselves to one form of exercise.

And you shouldn’t have to.

Every single person in the world should find the time and energy to exercise in some way, shape, or form, regardless of whether they suffer from chronic conditions like asthma.

Exercising has numerous health benefits that affect both the body and brain that are proven to improve the quality of life. If you have asthma, you should not feel limited in your abilities to better your health. You can reach your goals the same way non-asthmatics can. The only difference is that you’ll need to take a few extra precautions to ensure you aren’t hit with an attack while in the middle of training:

1. Warm up. It sounds simple, but it is still often overlooked in many workout regiments for no good reason. Gradually increasing the intensity of your warmup over a 10-minute period will better prepare your body for the heavy workload to come. Therefore, your lungs will be less susceptible to an attack.

2. Beware of the cold. Exercise inside when possible. If you’re running outside, particularly in the middle of winter, be sure to cover your mouth with some sort of cloth or bandana to warm the air. Activities such as swimming are also encouraged due to the higher levels of humidity.

3. Breathe through your nose. Sometimes, covering your mouth just isn’t enough. When possible, train your body to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will also help with warming the air.

4. Take your inhaler before you start exercising. Doing so 15 minutes before you plan to begin training is a reasonable amount of time for the medicine to kick in and reduce any potential symptoms.

Asthma is not an impossible hurdle to jump, but rather a condition that can be effectively treated and controlled by taking the necessary precautions. By adequately preparing yourself for each workout, you just might find that life both in and out of the gym is all you’ve been hoping it would be.

For more advice on how to better your physical and emotional self, check out the other fit tips from Frankie.

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