Asthma Can Take a Hike!
Sometimes I wake up, wheezing, and think, 'this asthma can just take a hike'. Then I think a moment, and remind my self that it literally can! Just because my asthma demands more from me, doesn't mean that I can't demand something in return. I proposed a while back, rather than my asthma "taking a hike", I'll take a hike with my asthma. Here's how I do it.
Preparation for a hike with asthma doesn't begin at the trailhead, nor packing a bag, it begins with good rest the night before for me. My asthma can be exhausting and make me fatigued, so I anticipate that and prepare for the next day's adventure with a good nights rest.
The night before, I pack my bag. Here's what's in it!
- My rescue inhaler! Always!
- Water: At least 32 ounces per 2 miles (should be empty when finished)
- Benadryl or Antihistamine
- Epi-pen (I have anaphylaxis)
- Snacks: I like to eat nuts because they are high in good fats and protein and aren't too heavy. I'll also bring some fruit because I love fruit.
- A charged phone: many trails have service now and it's always good to have in case of emergency.
Pick a trail
The trail is very important for me. I won't often hike a trail that has high elevation change or at high elevation because of the variables in air quality. I also pick a trail that is proportional to my level of fitness at the time; sometimes just a mile to 2 miles, other times maybe 10 miles or more (usually if I'm backpacking).
My other 2¢: Trees are great! Not only do trees provide great shade, but conifers and pine species release a terpene called 'pinene' which is a natural bronchodilator. Trees also replenish the oxygen content in our atmosphere and when in a dense forest you can feel that fresh oxygen. That's why it's common for people to report the mountains giving them a breath of fresh air.
Pick a pace
It's my opinion that this is the most important part of making a hike enjoyable, safe and successful as an asthmatic. A hike is not a race, it is a time to enjoy yourself in the natural world and appreciate our home here on earth. I recommend taking it slow, taking the time to investigate the flowers, trees, fungi and other expansive life around you. Maybe pick up a book to help you identify some of this life?
When picking a trail, ignore the 'time it should take you' part of the description. This is your time and you should enjoy it how you'd like to.
Gratitude and grit
Almost every hike I've ever been on, I've flared up with my asthma. I use my inhaler often when hiking and often feel more exhausted than others after the hike. That being said, it's always worth the view, the nature and the feeling of empowerment that comes with the accomplishment. It's not easy, but things worth doing rarely are. I encourage anyone with asthma to take a hike with their asthma, if they are able. It might just help you find the motivation to control your asthma better. It might inspire a new exercise for your management. One thing is certain, the grit you show will evoke the gratitude that your asthma doesn't keep you from enjoying the beauty of nature.
How does your asthma change with the seasons?