Winter sports are some of the most fun and exhilarating sports out there. They include skiing, both downhill and cross country, snowboarding, ice hockey, ice skating and the list goes on. There are also a plethora of fun winter including sledding, snowball fights, snowman building, and even ice fishing. For many these are common to partake in winter months and bring a lot of joy and fun for all who participate. But for asthmatics it can be a time of frustration and watching from the sidelines.
With some preparation and knowledge, asthma shouldn't always keep you from enjoying winter sports like everyone else. Of course in severe cases, and when your asthma is really acting up, it isn't a good idea to be outdoors for anyone.
Exercising is good for everyone. It conditions the heart, oxygenates your entire body, can improve lung function and even keep asthma symptoms at bay when the proper precautions are made ahead of time.
Preparing for winter sports
There are many steps you can take before, during and after winter sports.
- As always, talk with your doctor before starting any new sports activities and keep an open line of communication should any issues arise.
- Ask your doctor if he or she recommends that you take your rescue inhaler 15 minutes before starting any activities. Pre-medicating before playing can help prevent asthma symptoms.
- Having a good warm up period is essential. Ideal is 30 minutes but try to have at least 10 minutes of warm up time. Start slow and work your way up to a higher intensity.
- A cool down period that consists of low-intensity activity is equally important as a warm up period. While you might not experience any asthma symptoms while you are out there having fun, it is not uncommon for your asthma to start really kicking up after you are finished.
- Stay hydrated. Often times people subconsciously think that because it is not warm out, they don't need to drink lots of fluids. This couldn't be further from the truth. The air is almost always drier during the winter months which dehydrates your body faster, thus the need to stay on top of drinking extra fluids.
- If you are sick, don't risk it. As tempting as it may seem to get out there and have fun, it’s not worth it when you are sick.
- When it is very cold out, if possible, wear a scarf around your mouth and nose. It will act as a heater to warm up and add moisture to the air you're breathing before it reaches your lungs.
- The weather is a very big important factor to consider. Be sure to look ahead at the forecast to see if it is a good idea or not to participate in outdoor sports on that day. When it is exceptionally cold, you might want to exercise or participate in indoor activities instead.
- Be sure to have your rescue inhaler with you at all times. If your asthma starts acting up, take your inhaler (as directed by your doctor) and sit down for awhile. If your symptoms don't improve or get worse, seek medical attention immediately.
Having asthma shouldn't keep us from enjoying winter sports if they are activities we want to and are able to participate in. With the proper precautions and knowledge, winter can be a time of many snowball fights and a lot of fun!
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