Witness To Fitness

Regular exercise can help asthmatics breathe easier


When my second son, Josh, was just a few years old, he was diagnosed with asthma. Suddenly Candace and I had a lot of questions, not the least of which was: What will it be like for him growing up? Will he be able to enjoy the active life of a little boy?

Well, I am happy to say that Josh is doing great and his asthma has had little effect on his boyhood activities. His condition did, however, give me the needed motivation to learn what I could about asthma and how it affects those stricken by it, particularly in regards to physical activities. And I quickly found that I had many misconceptions.

Almost 15 percent of our population suffers from recurring asthma attacks. The attacks can be as simple as shortness of breath, or as serious as respiratory failure. Symptoms often include wheezing, dry coughing and tightness in the chest. Attacks are often associated with allergic reaction this is particularly the case during spring time in Payson respiratory infection, tobacco smoke, air pollution and stress or anxiety.

Exercise induced asthma is usually a result of strenuous aerobic exercise.

Most of us think that strenuous activity, especially programed exercise would be anything but beneficial for the asthmatic. But the fact is that most sufferers of asthma will likely benefit from regular physical activity. Although aerobic activity may bring on an attack, some research suggests that exercise may be a good thing for asthmatics. Tolerance for exertion is built up over time so it is less likely that an asthmatic will have an attack. But the key is to start slow and easy.

Appropriate exercise can reduce stress, increase energy and result in better sleep for asthmatics.

If you suffer from asthma, try exercising, but keep the following things in mind:

Warm up over a longer period of time. Extend a very low level of aerobic exercise for longer duration.

Exercise at the lower end of your target heat rate.

Swimming and walking are low-level activities and can be done for longer periods of time.

Listen to your body and rest when necessary.

Weight training is less likely to cause an attack if you rest between sets.

If you want to exercise at a higher level of intensity or participate in fast-paced sports, start slowly and increase your intensity over time.

Try not to exercise in polluted areas or in the cold or dry air.

When cooling down, extend the cool down time and then take a warm bath or shower. This will lessen the likelihood of attack after exercising.

When exercising, keep your medication, or inhaler with you at all times.

Before you begin an exercise program, it is absolutely essential that you get a clearance from your doctor. Your doctor may want you to use specific medications that will aid you in the control of an attack during exercise.

We have been fortunate with Josh, or rather he has been fortunate. His asthma has become less of a factor as he has grown older. Not all are so lucky. Regardless of the severity of your condition, I encourage you to try some controlled activity. Regular exercise is one of the best ways of maintaining your health and well-being. If you and your doctor are comfortable with the level at which you participate in physical activities, then you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

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