A man on a run, with a large puff of breath

Staying Active Despite Having Asthma

Last updated: November 2020

Staying active can be a major struggle for many asthmatics. Exercise is very important. The thought of exercising can be daunting for those of us who struggle to breathe at times even doing simple mundane day to day tasks. There are important points to think about and remember when deciding how to exercise:

  • Always talk to your doctor before starting ANY exercise program. This is very important.
  • If exercise tends to set your asthma off, you can use your rescue inhaler 15 min prior to exercise. This will help open up your airways and give you the maximum benefit for your workout.
  • START SLOW! Don't get into the mindset that it's only exercise if you're being super active and running. Simply not the case. Start out by just taking a short, slow walk. Don't push yourself too hard or too far.
  • Listen to your body. If you start to feel short of breath or wheezy stop immediately and take a break.
  • Work on slowly building your stamina. The important thing to remember is that you are getting up and being active.
  • Pick an activity that you enjoy doing. Swimming is a good activity for asthmatics, as is yoga.
  • When possible, exercise with another person. Not only can it make exercising more enjoyable, there will also be someone there to help if your asthma starts acting up.

One of my favorite things to do is go on walks with my children. I can go as fast or as slow as I am able while still being active and spending time with them. Another activity I really enjoy doing is dancing. Once upon a time I was a trained dancer back in my childhood. Nowadays, my rhythm is severely lacking but it doesn't stop me from having fun and being as active as I am able.  Zumba (which combines salsa dance moves with cardio workout moves) used to absolutely scare the living daylights out of me. It seemed so intimidating and way out of my skill set or ability as an asthmatic. So I slowly started building my stamina at the gym with easy walks on the treadmill or slow laps in the pool. One day I decided to go for it and give a Zumba class a try. Although I had to modify the vast majority of moves as to not push myself too hard too soon, I had a ton of fun.  I'll admit I was probably too hard on myself in the beginning for not being able to keep up with many of the other participants who were all older than myself by easily decades. But then I had to be realistic. I have a severe lung disease and they don't and have been doing this for years.  Once I gave myself a little bit of grace I was able to get into the mindset that I am doing something active and having a lot of fun doing it, despite being an asthmatic.
When your asthma is under good control, leading an active lifestyle can be easy and fun!

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