Playing Hard with Asthma: A Look at Kids’ Sport for Parents

As long as their asthma is under control, kids with asthma should be able—and encouraged—to participate in sport and/or physical activity alongside their friends and classmates. Sport and physical activity involvement promotes positive physical health, of course, but also promotes positive social and emotional development, so long as the right developmental sport program is selected for a young athlete—one that focuses on individual improvement, teamwork, and positive encouragement (among a lot of other things!). Kids should feel safe—physically and emotionally—when they participate in sport. For kids with asthma, they should be worry-free about what will happen if their asthma flares up. This means that they should, to a developmentally appropriate level, know how to recognize and articulate their symptoms, and know that the adults who are responsible for them when playing, practicing, or competing, know what to do if they need help.
Asthma Friendly Sport Tips for Parents
  • Provide a written asthma care plan, also known as an asthma action plan, to your child’s coach.
  • If coaches need education, provide resources. Ensure they know general asthma symptoms, and also how your child’s asthma “looks”.
  • Show coaches how your child’s medication is used. Let them know how independent your child is in administering their medication.
  • If your child takes asthma medication before being active, ensure coaches are aware of this.
  • Ensure coaches know how to reach you in case of an emergency, or, if they have any questions. Encourage them to ask questions, no matter how inconsequential they may seem.
  • Ensure kids have extra inhalers available—just in case! Some kids may wish to carry their own inhalers—clip on cases and not-lame waist packs exist to ensure that their inhalers stay attached to them and don’t go flying out of a pocket during a game! Alternately, a parent on the bench/sidelines, or a coach, can hold kids medications.
  • If your child is not feeling well they should not participate in physical activity. If they recently have had an exacerbation or virus (like a cold or flu) check with their doctor when it is okay to return to play. They may need to ease into it,
It’s important to remember that if kids have regular difficulty with physical activity, their doctor should be consulted, and another look should be taken at their environment. Is the cold air of a hockey arena triggering their asthma when they’re playing ice sports or skating, or is that not an issue outdoors and could it be the fumes from the ice maintenance equipment, like Zambonis? (…Is my Canadian showing? “From Eh to Zamboni…!). Is smoky air from outdoor bonfires triggering their asthma during the Spring and Summer outdoor soccer season, when they’re okay playing indoors in the Winter? A Certified Asthma Educator or doctor may have suggestions on how to deal with these triggers. The most important thing, is that kids should be able to choose—and enjoy—the sports they participate in, and asthma should not prevent them from participating in the activities they want to. There may be—in very few cases—activities that may simply not work for your child’s asthma, but an agreeable alternative should always be found… Long gone are the days where kids with asthma were told NOT to participate in exercise and sport. Sport and physical activity sets the stage for lifelong positive health choices—kids with asthma, just like other kids, should be able to try as many activities as they need—and want—to find activities that are a good fit for them… that they have fun with, too.

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