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Restarting Your Workout Plan After An Asthma Flare

I like working out. I ride the bike, treadmill, and lift some weights. I have a nice program that I do. I know I’m not the lone asthmatic to do this. But, as asthmatics, sometimes we experience a setback. An asthma episode might cause us to miss time from our workouts. So, in this post, I’d like to offer my tips for restarting your workout regimen post asthma attack recovery.

What got me to thinking about post asthma attack recovery?

Well, I had an asthma set back. I ended up in the ER. I ended up on a boost of steroids. Obviously you can’t work out when you’re having a flare-up. And then there’s the rest and recovery period. All told, it was two weeks sitting around. Now I’m better and ready to get back to my workout.

I read an article that said that you lose muscle if you don’t keep working out. I do not have the article. But, I remember reading this once and I think it’s true. If you are a normal person, such as someone without a chronic condition, what is the amount of muscle loss if you miss time from your workout?

Well, the article said that if you go one week without working out you lose about nothing. You’re probably fine to just restart where you left off. If you miss two weeks, you’ll probably have to cut back 25% and restart from that point. If you miss three weeks, you should reduce your weights or aerobic activity by 50%. And, if you miss a month, you might as well just start from scratch.

I mean, it was something like that. I didn’t quote it exactly. But, you get the point. It makes sense. And, if I miss workouts because of non-asthma things, I think that pretty much applies to me too. I mean, say I’m busy working or something. Or, say I’m on vacation. At least when you’re doing those things you’re busy being physically active. You are doing something. You’re not going to lose all of your stamina, at least not that fast.

But, what if you have an asthma attack?

Now, I have asthma. Many of you reading this have asthma. Or, maybe you have some other chronic condition I’m not aware of. But, we are not normal, in a sense. I mean, we are normal in our own ways. We try to live normal lives, but we cannot compare ourselves with perfectly healthy people who don’t have health setbacks.

Post asthma attack recovery

So, I adjusted the above for my post asthma attack self. I think this is important because asthma attacks can really set you back. Obviously, when you’re having an attack you can’t do much. And even during the recovery period, you can’t do much. You sit around quite a bit. You might not even be able to get off the couch for a few days. So, what happens is you rot your muscles. It stinks, but it’s the way it is.

So, you can’t just hop up and start where you left off. At least, you probably shouldn’t. And I know that I can’t. But, I know it’s important to get back to working out as soon as I possibly can. As soon as I was up to it was today. I got up. I took the kids to school. I went to the health club.

So, my rule is like this: You miss one week you have to cut back 75%. You do all your reps, but you do it with low weights. You get on the treadmill or bike (for me it’s the bike today, there’s no way I was going to run). And you just move your feet. If you’re up to it, you can increase your tension or whatever. You can get a decent workout without wearing yourself out or doing too much.

It’s a nice feeling to get back at it

I have learned not to worry about what other people think.

Sure, I lifted a measly 100 pounds (plus the bar) this morning doing chest presses. I lifted a measly 30 pounds doing barbell curls. So, some of the guys with abs the size of large boulders were looking at me. And I didn’t care.

I have learned not to worry what other people think. I think if you do that then you let them define you. And you let that intimidate you. I don’t think that’s helpful. So, I just go to the health club and do what my asthmatic body allows me to do. And I know within time, I’ll be back right where I was and then some.

Update: After writing this I came upon a quote by a physical therapist. It says: “A person who spends three days in a hospital bed loses up to three months worth of muscle.” So, I think I was spot on in my idea here. Thoughts?

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

  • RosieK
    1 week ago

    Thank you for this. The relentlessness of flate ups seems to have me goimg further and further backwards.
    I am slowly learning to pace myself. The Pulmonary rehab I have bern doing has taught me to keep within a specific range of effort so that I dont over do it.
    This is one of the hardest things about chronic, severe asthma…. only had it since 2014, used to swim and do lots of hikes etc! Each flare seems to be harder to get over!

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    1 week ago

    Glad to hear from you again. Pacing yourself is definitely something we need to talk about more. It’s so hard to do, but so important too. All the best. John. Author/ Site Moderator.

  • Patti
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you John! Sometimes I think people think I am faking when I am trying to recover from an exacerbation. It is so frustrating. I am a very active person, well as much as asthma allows. When I am in recovery mode some people just can’t understand what that entails. Thankfully, I have plenty of people around me that understand that I need time to get back to my usual routine slowly and are supportive and help me pace myself while I’m getting back on track.
    When you factor in the fact that you lose so much ground when you are compromised the frustration mounts. I always feel as though I am making up for lost ground rather than staying in shape.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you. So glad to hear you can relate. Sometimes I wonder if I’m alone in being like this. So, I guess that’s what communities like this are for. So glad to hear you have people who understand what you are going through. That has to be very helpful in your efforts to get back on your feet. All the best. John. Asthma.net Site Moderator.

  • Shellzoo
    4 weeks ago

    I had a little flare-up on Sunday and spent the last couple days resting. Today I will get my exercise shoveling 12 inches of snow so I can get to my driveway. I listened to my airways and body and rested the last couple days. I still don’t feel 100% but I think I can get the snow cleared. Tomorrow I get back into my routine. Learning to listen to my airways is new for me. If I start coughing while shoveling, I will stop, rest and finish up later. I do plan to use my Ventolin prior to shoveling and keep my face covered.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    So, how did the shoveling go for you? Just curious? John. Asthma.net site Moderator.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi again, Shellzoo, and thanks for your follow-up post about your planned shoveling. I agree with my colleague, John – you are indeed fortunate to have such a magnanimous neighbor! Shoveling can indeed be a challenge for those of us with asthma!
    Warmly,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    4 weeks ago

    Shellzoo. You are blessed. You are fortunate to have this nice neighbor. Sometimes, I am lucky like that and my neighbor shovels for me. All the Best. John. Site Moderator.

  • Shellzoo
    4 weeks ago

    I was all ready to shovel the snow and my neighbor already had done it for me while I was getting my snow gear on. I must have been under a snow band because another mile and there was much less snow. I think shoveling snow is what set off the wheezing that led to my asthma diagnosis so, I know I have to be careful. Grateful my neighbor helped out and I might have to bake cookies for them.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Shellzoo, and thanks for your post. If you truly feel up to the task of shoveling – it’s entirely up to you. It’s understandable the drive you have to clear the (12″) snow away – I always feel the same! And, the precautions you are taking (inhaler and keeping your nose and mouth covered is exactly what I do, too.
    Good luck and be safe and careful!!
    Leon (site moderator)

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