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Lifestyle Changes for Asthma Management

Lifestyle changes usually are not enough to manage asthma on their own, but they can certainly complement an asthma treatment plan. Helpful lifestyle changes may include manageable exercise, avoiding asthma triggers, a more thorough cleaning routine, or quitting smoking. Of course, it is not possible to control every trigger in our environment, but some small changes can go a long way. We asked our team of asthma advocates, “What lifestyle changes have helped you with asthma management?” Here is what they said:

Helpful lifestyle changes for asthma

Cleaning, cardio, and openness!

Response from Becky Greiner

Cleaning on a regular basis – dusting, disinfecting, sweeping, vacuuming, and educating myself on the most effective ways to clean based on my own asthma and allergy triggers. I also run and do cardio to keep my lungs strong and exercised.

Another important lifestyle change is being open and honest about what my triggers are so people don't smoke cigarettes around me or unknowingly put me in harm's way. I used to be very shy about letting people know if I was having asthma symptoms or about using my rescue inhaler around others, but I've learned over time that there's no shame about having asthma and people won't judge or think less of me because of it.

Improving cardiovascular health

Response from Samuel Taylor

My asthma improved a lot in my early years of college. I began to eat better and exercise more. Initially, exercise was difficult, but after about a month I could feel that my cardiovascular health was improving. I began hiking, practicing yoga, and climbing, all of which brought my attention to my breathing and helped me breathe better.

Exercise and managing indoor air quality

Response from Kyky Knight

Staying on top of my medication was a great first step! I also started to really analyze and dig deep on exercise that is accessible to me. I was the kid who really couldn't run a mile, and the teachers wouldn't let me try. Through gradual implementation of exercise, I've learned to manage my overall health better along with asthma, instead of the two having an oil and water relationship.

But asthma is also pretty tricky and, sometimes, even despite my best efforts, I struggle. Having access to a care professional has been critical in my management. I also have idiopathic anaphylaxis, so avoiding the outdoors was kind of a management tool for me for a while, but I've found that my mental health suffers if I am always cooped up, and I like to hike, so I take it slow and listen to my body. I also started keeping house plants like Pothos and an air purifier in my home, and I think they've helped a lot.

Limiting activities that trigger my asthma

Response from John Bottrell

I think the goal of good asthma management (control) is to not have to make any changes. The goal of good asthma control is to live as normal a life as you can. And I can tell you (or I would like to think) that there are very few things I enjoy doing that I do not do because of my asthma. Although there are some adjustments to my routine I have had to make due to my asthma.

For one thing, I am passionate about my baseball card collection. Although older cards harbor dust mites, a trigger of mine. So, I have to limit my time sorting through older cards. I can only do it until my chest starts to feel tight. So, as you can see, I still do it. I just have to pace myself in a unique way because of this darn disease. As another example, I still go to a hunting camp, but I have to limit my time there due to all the camping triggers.

Knowledge and medication compliance

Response from Leon Lebowitz

Most significantly, my career as a respiratory therapist (which began in 1972), has changed the course and control of this condition for me. With knowledge, understanding, and good training, as well as a proper medication regimen, asthma is by and large under excellent control. I still remember (in respiratory therapy school), when I learned the physiology of why an asthmatic has difficulty breathing. (It focuses on the exhaled breath). How exhilarating that was to learn! Staying compliant with my own personal medication regimen, combined with avoiding known triggers, has kept my breathing patterns under control and pretty well normal.

Easing into exercise

Response from Nicola Saunders

The biggest thing that has helped my asthma is exercise. My asthma didn't cause me many problems when I was younger. We lived in Germany, and I was able to participate in all activities and sports. We moved to England when I was 15, and my asthma went progressively downhill from there.

Over the years I had to give up playing football, horse riding, and then eventually any social situations – as laughing would cause an asthma attack. When I decided to try and get back into exercise 2 years ago, it was a big risk. I'd spent much of the previous year in a sorry state thanks to my asthma. However, I am so glad I stuck with it. It has not been easy, and I have been tempted to give up on more than 1 occasion, but my quality of life has drastically improved.

Your asthma and lifestyle changes

What about you? Have you found that any of the lifestyle changes our advocates used have also helped your asthma? There are certainly many different changes someone could make that were not mentioned here, including reducing exposure to pet dander, managing acid reflux, and more.

We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

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