Community Views: Asthma-Friendly Exercises
Last updated: November 2021
Finding activities that do not make our asthma symptoms worse can be hard, especially for those living with exercise-induced asthma. Although it may take some time to find the right asthma-friendly exercise, it is not impossible. We asked our Facebook community: What asthma-friendly activities do you like to do to improve lung function? This is what our members had to say.
By staying physically active, the heart and lungs work harder to get oxygen flowing to the muscles. Not only does exercising make your muscles stronger, but it also strengthens your lungs and heart. Finding a way to improve our lung function can help reduce our asthma symptoms and improve our breathing. Talk to your doctor first before starting a new exercise program. Although these exercises listed below might not work for everyone, we encourage you to try them out if you can – with your rescue inhaler close by just in case.
Swimming, but not for everyone
Swimming is a popular exercise for asthma and is less likely to cause an asthma attack than land-based activities. However, it is important to keep in mind that chlorine from pools may trigger asthma symptoms and act as an airway irritant to some. Make sure to listen to your body.1
- "I'm slowly improving the number of strokes I can take before I have to take a breath."
- "Swimming underwater and holding my breath for as long as I can."
- "My daughter does competitive swimming. The doctor said her lungs would be worse if she didn't swim."
- "Sea swimming. I can't swim in a pool as the chlorine is a real trigger; however, the seawater is fine."
Singing is an exercise that can increase breath control and strengthen the diaphragm and chest muscles. This might help people living with asthma breathe easier and more efficiently. Plan a karaoke night with friends, or belt out a few notes while listening to your favorite songs!2
- "Singing really helps the lungs."
- "Singing! At the top of my lungs when driving. When I can’t, I know my asthma is acting up."
Yoga, pilates, and meditation
Yoga, pilates, and meditation not only improve posture but can open your chest muscles, too. These exercises can encourage better breathing and breath control. Also, they can reduce stress and anxiety, which are known to be asthma triggers. No time to join a class? Find a 5-minute video on Youtube!
- "Yoga is much easier than cardio and makes you focus on your breathing."
- "Yoga allows me to practice pacing my breathing for when I get an asthma attack."
- "I take time to meditate and take mindful deep breaths from my belly."
- "Pilates is very breath-oriented...inhales and exhales specific to certain movements within exercises. GREAT for lung health."
Walking and biking
Walking and biking, even at a low intensity, might be good options if you have asthma. These exercises can help increase stamina, reduce shortness of breath, and improve your lung power. However, it is crucial to be mindful of outdoor triggers, such as air pollution, which may cause an increase in asthma symptoms.
- "Walking on the treadmill."
- "Biking! I do an inhalant before I go and bike around 15 miles."
- "A brisk walk to get my heart rate up to test my breathing."
- "Treadmill/walking, weights, Peloton bike/outside bike. I usually pre-medicate prior to aerobic exercise."
Playing a wind instrument
Wind instruments such as the flute, clarinet, trombone, harmonica, or the saxophone can be a great way to build lung strength. One study suggests that there are long-term benefits for people with asthma who play wind instruments. People with asthma who played wind instruments had fewer asthma symptoms and fatigue when compared to those that played non-wind instruments.3
- "Trumpet playing. Always been told my asthma would be much worse had I not been a musician."
- "Playing the harmonica."
Thank you for sharing your asthma-friendly exercises with us!
We appreciate all of our community members who took the time to share their asthma-friendly exercises with us. The list of activities goes on and on. Staying active can improve your asthma in the long run, but remember to first talk to your doctor and always listen to your body. As one member said, "It's whatever YOUR physical capabilities are... just do what you can."
How often do you find time to focus on yourself?
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