Person on a treadmill trying to stay healthy, but anxiety of exercising too hard with Asthma is on their mind.

Exercise Anxiety

A friend and I were talking the other day about asthma and exercise. She was telling me how she had pretty bad asthma when she was younger. Now that she is an adult she is really nervous about attempting to work out even though her asthma is now controlled because of what she went through as a child.

It really got me thinking because this is something I also struggle with. My situation is a bit different than hers, however, where my asthma has become more severe as I became an adult. Even with the differences between our asthma stories, the common denominator is our level of anxiety about exercise. It can all seem completely overwhelming at times, so I wanted to break it down a bit and share tips that have really helped me.

Talk with your doctor

Because asthma is not a one-size-fits-all disease, exercising and workouts will also not be the same for all of us. With that said, it is imperative that you have a conversation with your asthma doctor about your plans and get their advice. Often times they will have some great ideas and might even give you a starting point as well as any limitations when it comes to working out. Your doctor may recommend that you use your rescue inhaler 15 minutes or so before exercising so be sure to discuss that with them.

Find an exercise buddy

I prefer to exercise alone for most things so this is something I personally really struggle with. As asthmatics, we have to be extra careful when exercising because of our fragile lungs.

Having someone to exercise with is not only great for accountability but also a good safety net. Be sure to talk to them and tell them about your asthma and what to watch out for and also what to do if you start to have trouble breathing. It can also be easier to have more “fun” workouts with a buddy!

Start slow

We aren’t going to run a marathon on our first day of jogging - although wouldn’t it be nice if we did?! Having realistic expectations is key.

Walking is so good for the body! Even just getting out for a short walk is beneficial. I am a fan of the couch to 5k program, as it starts really slow and builds your stamina over time. There have been so many times where I was unable to complete a workout and had to repeat it over and over subsequent days until I could. And you know what? That’s totally okay!

Listen to your body

Pay attention to how you’re breathing while exercising. There is a very fine line to walk between pushing yourself in a strenuous workout and pushing too far until you are in a full-blown asthma exacerbation. Stay hydrated and know when to stop and take breaks. Your body will thank you.

Stay consistent

Being active is good for the body and also the mind. Staying consistent is key. However, as I said above, be sure to listen to your body. If you are having a bad breathing day do not feel guilty about taking rest days until your body is ready to get back at it. When I have long workdays at the hospital I am always moving and walking around. I have an Apple Watch and have a sense of accomplishment when I close the exercise rings.

These are just a few things that have helped me when it comes to being nervous about exercising. Writing about it also helps me because as I am writing and editing this post it is a great reminder and motivator. What are some things that you have found helpful when overcoming exercise anxiety?


Do you experience exercise anxiety?

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