Eight Excellent Ways to Improve Asthma Control Through Exercise

When I teach people about how to manage their asthma, I always emphasize the value of being active to overall health. In this article, though, we'll look at the ways in which exercise can actually improve your asthma control.

Here is what regular exercise and staying active can do for you:

1. Promotes a Healthy Heart

When your heart is healthy, your overall health will improve, and that extends to asthma as well. Exercise strengthens your heart and improves your circulation.

Also, studies show that regular, sustained exercise helps raise HDL, which is also known as the good cholesterol. And that translates to a healthier heart as well.

The functioning of your heart is closely aligned to the functioning of your respiratory system. Exercise helps your heart pump more efficiently, which gets more blood, nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. This will help you feel less winded. So, when your heart is healthy, chances are asthma control will be better too.

2. Improves Muscle Tone

When you work your body, it will get stronger. Your muscles will get stronger and more toned. Joints will be more flexible. Exercise also promotes deep breathing and this can strengthen the muscles in your airways, which can only be beneficial for your asthma control.

3. Helps You Lose Weight

Obesity has been linked to severe asthma and poorer asthma control. Think about it -- even being a few pounds overweight can make exercise and breathing well more difficult. Exercise alone will not lead to weight loss. You'll also need to make healthy food choices.

But exercise does burn calories and even a 5% weight loss can make you feel a whole lot better! And when you weight less, you'll breathe easier and have improved asthma control.

4. Boosts Energy

Sure, exercise can take a lot out of you and lead to fatigue right after a hard workout. But overall, it will boost your energy over the long run.

In fact, one study found that low-intensity exercise actually reduced fatigue symptoms by as much as 65 percent and increased energy levels by 20 percent.

Also, while exercise does have real physical benefits, researchers also believe that exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase your psychological feelings of more energy and less fatigue.

When your energy levels are in a positive balance, you're more likely to follow all the elements of your asthma treatment plan and that can only result in better asthma control.

5. Promotes Healthier Eating

When you take steps to be more active, your body tends to crave the kinds of foods that will give you the energy to keep exercising.

So, exercise can lead to healthier food choices. When you eat healthy, you'll better control your weight -- and thus have better asthma control (see #3).

6. Improves Sleep

Exercise will help you fall asleep faster and then stay asleep longer. So, when you wake, you'll feel rested.

When you're well-rested, you're healthier overall and more prepared to make the right choices each day in managing your asthma.

7. Strengthens Your Immune System

Regular, low- to moderate-intensity exercise may provide a protective effect on your immune system. Since asthma is an immune system disease, this can only lead to better asthma control.

Of course, overdoing it with exercise can have the opposite effect, so be sure to balance your activity and rest.

8. Makes You Happier

When you are active, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that can actually improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. So, you'll also be better able to deal with stress, which can be an asthma trigger.

Asthma, as a chronic disease, is also often linked to anxiety and depression, even when well-controlled. Studies show that exercise can greatly reduce anxiety and lift depression.

How You Can Get More Active

So, you can easily see how beneficial exercise can be to your daily asthma control. If you haven't been active, there is no time like the present to get started. Here are a few tips to get you going:

  • Build activity into your everyday life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Park in the back of the lot. Walk to the mailbox instead of driving. Dance to the radio.
  • Find an exercise buddy. Working out is so much more fun when you have someone to do it with you. Plus, you can push each other and support each other when times get rough or motivation wanes. You can also join a group exercise class, like Zumba or yoga.
  • Pick an exercise you enjoy. If your workout routine feels tedious, it's going to be hard to maintain your motivation over the long run. So choose something that you find to be fun and that you'll look forward to doing.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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