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Tips To Keep Running With Asthma

Running And Asthma: What You Need To Know & Do

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Updated February 17, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Many patients with asthma believe that running and asthma are a bad mix. However, running with asthma can be great for your body if your asthma is under good control. Running with asthma can also trigger your asthma symptoms if your asthma is poorly controlled.

Running With Asthma: Benefits

Running with asthma has a number of benefits:

  • It can strengthen respiratory muscles
  • It can help maintain weight
  • It can have psychological benefits
  • It can decrease the risk of heart disease

Running With Asthma: How Running With Asthma Can Trigger An Asthma Attack

Your nose normally protects your lungs by warming air and acting as a filter. When running with asthma, your body needs more air and you begin to mouth breathe. Your nose does not warm, humidify or filter air. As a result, running with asthma can increase your risk of trigger exposure.

Running With Asthma: Tips For Success

Are you able to keep running with asthma? If not these tips will help you start running with asthma:

  • See your doctor first. As with any chronic illness, make sure you discuss running with asthma with your doctor before you begin a significant exercise regimen. Before you begin running with asthma, your doctor will likely want your asthma under good control. You will need to have an action plan that outlines what to do if you develop symptoms while running with asthma.

  • Know your limits Running is a strenuous activity that is more likely to trigger your asthma compared to some other activities.

  • Quit smoking. Nearly 25% of adults with asthma smoke and, unfortunately, most probably began smoking when they were young. Tobacco smoke irritates the lungs and makes asthma worse. Smoking during pregnancy can also increase your child's risk of developing asthma. Quitting smoking will help you breathe and run better.

  • Weather is important. If the cold weather makes combining running and asthma difficult, consider running indoors on a track or treadmill. If you just need to get outside, make sure you wear a mask or scarf that can decrease the amount of cold air getting to your lungs. Even better, do your outdoor running when it is warm and humid.

  • Always carry your rescue inhaler. It is important to have your inhaler when running with asthma. Your rescue inhaler is essential to treat any sudden asthma symptoms that develop.

  • Monitor your asthma. If your asthma is not under good control, than you need to achieve better control before running with asthma.

  • Follow your asthma action plan to safely exercise with asthma. Talk with your doctor about your asthma action plan and how it can support exercising with asthma. If you are not in the green zone, you shouldn't be exercising, as it could make your asthma worse.

    If you experience symptoms while exercising with asthma, you will use you rescue inhaler to treat the symptoms. Your doctor may also have you use your rescue inhaler prior to exercise with asthma so that you may prevent symptoms from occurring.


  • Warm up and cool down. Avoid sudden changes in your activity that may trigger asthma symptoms. Slowly begin your workout -- don't just walk out the door and begin exercising vigorously. Likewise, when exercising with asthma, don't just suddenly stop exercising. Rather, slowly decrease your effort for a short period before stopping.

  • Run when pollen counts are low. Either do not run or only go for a short run on days when pollen counts are high. You can check out pollen counts at pollen.com. Additionally, you may want to avoid windy days, as the more wind there is, the more likely asthma triggers are going to be airborne.

  • Shower after running. This will decrease reduce seasonal allergen exposure in your home. Additionally, you can decrease home allergen exposure by leaving your clothes in your laundry room and brushing off your shoes. A warm shower also provides warm moist air that can be of benefit after running with asthma.

  • Run after it rains. Rain washes away many triggers like pollen and pollen counts are lowest following a rainstorm. The best time for running with asthma is rainy, wet, cloudy and windless days.

  • Consider a protective mask. Wearing a protective pollen mask while running can decrease trigger exposure.

Sources:

Diana Babb. Accessed February 10, 2011. Asthma- Run With It

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Accessed February 10, 2011. Tips to Remember: Asthma and Exercise

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