A New Year, A New Routine for Asthma Management
It’s a new year, and a time when most Americans take assessment of their health. For the 24 million Americans living with asthma, hitting the gym may be more complicated than just signing up for a spin class. During exercise, lungs breathe harder, which causes water loss and cools the lungs’ moist lining. This water loss drops the temperature of lungs and can cause asthma symptoms. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, a feeling of chest tightness, or shortness of breath. For those living with asthma, they may start to experience symptoms once they begin exercising, or soon after it ends.
The fear of asthma symptoms should not be a barrier to the start of a healthier year. Understanding asthma symptoms and how to manage them is the first step to a productive workout.
Talk with a health care provider.
Before starting any exercise plan, talk with a health care provider to go over the symptoms that are experienced during different types of physical activity. Create an Asthma Action Plan together that covers any medication that should be taken prior to a workout, and strategies for managing asthma symptoms.
Find the right exercise program.
Those with asthma should consider physical activities that have periods of inactivity such as baseball, volleyball, and tennis. Swimming is often a good choice since the warm, moist air may keep symptoms away. Other beneficial activities for those with asthma include outdoor and indoor biking, dancing and aerobics, walking and running – all activities that can have rest intervals should they be needed.
Warm up and cool down.
Important for everyone, a long warm up and cool down routine helps individuals with asthma ease into physical activities and reduces asthma symptoms.
Keep medications on hand.
By talking to a health care provider, a quick-relief medication may be prescribed prior to physical activity to avoid asthma symptoms. And keep quick-relief medicine close by in case of difficulty breathing during a workout.
Know when to scale it back or pick up the pace.
A good workout is not a race and should be paced at what is most comfortable for the individual. Know when to stop activity and use quick-relief medicine if asthma symptoms appear. With incremental physical activity, asthma symptoms can be managed and kept at bay.
To learn more about asthma, or for a refresher course, take the American Lung Association’s free online learning course Asthma Basics. In this self-paced learning tool, Asthma Basics covers asthma triggers and how to identify and reduce them, action plans when flare-ups do happen, how to respond to a breathing emergency, asthma medication tutorials, and an asthma management plan template. Available at Lung.org/asthma-basics, this online course is ideal for everyone from individuals with asthma, their family and friends and even health care professionals.
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