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Are Sports Possible with Asthma?

I used to be quite an athlete when I was a child and teenager. I played competitive soccer and softball for years and absolutely loved every minute of it. I was diagnosed with mild asthma when I was 8 years old and given my first albuterol inhaler. It wasn’t until I was a teenager when I was given my first daily maintenance inhaler as my asthma became more bothersome. I was still able to play my beloved sports with asthma. While it did become a bit more difficult, I didn’t let it stop me.

Playing sports with asthma

Now, well into adulthood and with a severe asthma diagnosis that I was given 14 years ago, I no longer play competitive sports. I still really enjoy having an active lifestyle with the occasional pick-up sports game here and there.

There is a big misconception out there that if you have asthma you cannot play sports or do anything physically demanding. While everyone is different, with proper asthma control and management, playing sports is absolutely possible.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare for physical activity.

Talk with your doc about sports

Having an open line of communication with your doctor is very important. Getting medical clearance is necessary, especially when playing competitive sports with asthma. Your doctor may have some specific instructions to give you for managing your asthma while being physically active.

Be prepared for physical exertion

Stay hydrated and have plenty of water with you. Becoming dehydrated can make asthma symptoms worse. Have your rescue inhaler with you and easily accessible. Using your inhaler 15 min before physical activity can help as well, but be sure to talk to your doctor before doing so to get their recommendations. Have a conversation with your coach and teammates to let them know you have asthma and how they can help you if you should be in distress and need assistance.

Take a break

Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to take a break to catch your breath. Pushing yourself too hard and too far can be detrimental to your breathing. Know your limits and when it is time to stop and take a breather and, when necessary, your rescue inhaler.

It is definitely possible to be active and play sports with asthma. I completely understand that this may not be the case when your asthma is flaring or you are going through a particularly rough patch with your breathing. When you are able to achieve good asthma control it shouldn’t keep you from getting out there and being active! Being active doesn’t mean only hardcore sports either, it can mean going for a walk or slow jog. Low resistance exercises (such as swimming or yoga) are also great for asthmatics!

What do you do to stay active? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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.

Comments

  • Shellzoo
    4 days ago

    I stopped being active over the past few years thinking I was out of shape because I got breathless with exercise or sports. Felt like a wimp. Also this sounds strange but my legs would itch like crazy. Now I am realizing it was most likely asthma and am starting to get more active again and doing well. I love walking as it is easy on the joints and want to start doing 5Ks and Yoga. My plan says to use 2 puffs of albuterol prior to exercise but if I walk at a good clip on the treadmill, I don’t need it. If I run, that is another story. At my age, walking a few miles is just fine.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    3 days ago

    Hi Shellzoo, and thanks for chiming in here. Glad to hear your plan is to resume your physical activity – it can only help your condition. Good luck!! Leon (site moderator)

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