Exercise for Asthma: Benefits, Best Types, and Safety Tips

Exercise induced bronchoconstriction is one of the several types of asthma. It is activated when one is exposed to physical activity that requires oxygen. Some of the activities that may trigger an exercise induced asthma attack include sports that require a lot of running or fast movements with no break time, such as soccer. Swimming often triggers asthma too due to the exposure of the chemicals in the water, such as chlorine, and the extremely congestive air in indoor pool facilities. Sports and activities that have time outs, break times, or that are interval based allow great opportunity for participants to catch one’s breath and regain strength. Exercise induced asthma can be experienced at any age throughout the life span and sometimes it is the only form of asthma present, meaning asthma attacks and asthma like symptoms are only present during or after a workout lasting approximately thirty minutes to one hour. To avoid exercise induced asthma it is helpful to stretch and warm up for ten to fifteen minutes before and after the anticipated movement, so the body is not abruptly starting or stopping strenuous activity. (American Lung Association, 2018).

Cough variant asthma is another form of asthma. It can be from post-nasal drip, bronchitis, or upper respiratory constrictions and is most commonly found in adults. This form of asthma causes a dry cough that last about eight weeks, but it is unlike the other forms because other regular asthma symptoms are not present. It can still be life threatening and must be treated diligently. If any form of an asthma attack is happening inhalers and nebulizers are immediate responses used to treat the attack symptoms. They are used to open up airways. Nebulizers, also known as breathing treatments, are used when an inhaler is not working or if more intense treatment is needed. Both inhalers and nebulizers are fast acting and can save the life of someone having an asthma attack. Asthma cannot be cured, making it a chronic condition, but symptoms can be managed. Treating asthma symptoms requires individualizing procedures so that they can be catered to the client’s symptoms. (Papi, Brightling, Perdersen, & Reddel, 2018).

Part II

Physical- The movements needed to pursue every day activities can be strenuous on an individual who is living with asthma. Walking up a flight upstairs, running to catch the local bus, bending down to lift up a child, taking care of self-care needs, or even participating in a daily household activity can trigger wheezing, shortness of breath, or asthma attacks. When it comes to participating in physical activity there are symptoms to remain aware of in relation to exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. If you are working out in the cold weather or extreme heat it is important to monitor all asthma symptoms because cold dry air can initiate attacks. For a child with asthma it is vital to get outside and play as much as possible so the development of the lungs can be continuously strengthened, and so physical activity can become normalized at a young age. Strenuous outdoor activities can initiate an asthma attack, but if there is no physical activity or play at all an attack can come along easier. Finding moderately challenge games or very straightforward exercise concepts to participate in can help with long term endurance and lung efficiency. Karate, yoga, tai chi, golf, bowling, fishing, and a variety of other tasks that require breath control, but are not too triggering of aerobic movements. These can be a happy medium when searching for sports to participate in when living with asthma.

Practicing breathing exercises regularly and monitoring what interventions cause attacks to begin can help one establish a plan of action to take when deciding what activities are appropriate to participate in and that won’t trigger respiratory complications. Creating an Asthma Action Plan and addressing all three zones of the plan can help one maintain a suitable physical activity environment and healthy life overall. In Asthma Action Plans there are two parts. Part one expresses the day to day management of symptoms, while part two addresses how to cope and react to severe signs that show the asthma is progressively becoming more dangerous. All three zones of the asthma action plan are labeled with a color, what symptoms one should look out for, and the action that should be taken if the signs are presented for a prolonged period in an individual with asthma. If there are not any asthma symptoms present, if everyday prescriptions and treatments are used as directed, and if things are overall running smoothly throughout the respiratory system, then one would be marked in the green zone of the Action Plan. If the yellow zone is underway that means wheezing, shortness of breath, and disruption of sleep are occurring and it is time to use a rescue inhaler. It is also crucial to make an appointment with a health care professional to discuss the use of new treatment and new medication. The last zone is known as the red danger zone. In the red danger zone sleeping is close to impossible, breathing is exceptionally difficult, and all asthma symptoms are highly problematic and getting in the way of daily activities. This stage requires the use of a rescue inhaler and calling 911 or immediately going to the emergency room. Having an Asthma Action Plan can save lives and if a healthcare provider does not make one for a client the client should ask to create one. (Developing an Asthma Action Plan, 2018).

Emotional- It can be difficult psychologically to live with asthma. Opportunities to participate in community events, local sports teams, and pursuing personal interests may be restricted due to the severity of the condition, which can be emotionally taxing. Living with anxiety or panic attacks can cause asthma attacks as well due to frequent shortness of breath, the feeling of a tight chest, or the other stressors this diagnosis may put on the body. Emotions, such as anger, can evoke breathing complications too, so a respiratory attack can be triggered without even participating in physical movement. The severity of asthma and how much it confines daily activities can put a strain on one mentally and can be a contributor to dual psychological conditions. Finding interventions that do not require constant medical treatment can help. Strengthening the lungs through meditative breathing exercise can be beneficial to both the mind and body. Acquiring more knowledge related to the condition can allow for stronger coping skills to be created, better reaction when an attack presents itself, and a better understanding of asthma overall can help friends and family assist when needed. Remaining active in the community and practicing self-care can boost confidence as well, which is great for emotional health. Unfortunately, having a near death experience or life threatening asthma attack can create negative feelings towards the condition of asthma. These frightening experiences can restrict individuals from attempting to live life to the fullest. Once an individual has found an activity, intervention, or hobby that is enjoyable and creates feelings of confidence they can reach the optimal experience from the activity, while also finding mental stability and comfort. Benefits from focusing on mental and emotional health can result in positive social interactions, finding common interests, developing a sense of community, and it can increase alertness while improving stimulation to the brain. In relation to emotional growth, finding emotional interventions will also help reduce stress, high cholesterol, and risk of future asthma attacks.(Emotional Effects of Asthma, 2018).

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Exercise for asthma: Benefits, best types, and safety tips. (2020, Jan 10). Retrieved June 25, 2021 , from

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