Asthma: 6 tips to exercise safely and strengthen your lungs
By Emily Hagan | Published on Oct 18, 2023
Regular exercise is vital for maintaining overall health and well-being. However, for individuals with asthma, it can pose unique challenges. Asthma, characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, often leads to breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness during physical exertion. But fear not! With the right precautions and management strategies, people with asthma can safely engage in exercise and reap its numerous benefits. Here are expert-recommended tips on how to exercise with asthma.
1. Consult with Your Healthcare Provider
Before starting any exercise routine, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider to ensure your asthma is well-controlled. They can offer valuable insights into your specific condition and recommend appropriate medications or inhalers to effectively manage your symptoms.
2. Utilize Breathing Techniques
According to Dr. Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of Critical Care and Pulmonology at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, proper breathing techniques have a significant impact on improving lung function and reducing asthma symptoms during physical activity. Here are four techniques to consider:
Diaphragmatic breathing: Begin with a slow and gradual warm-up, focusing on deep breathing exercises. This technique strengthens the diaphragm, the primary muscle involved in breathing. Inhale deeply through your nostrils, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale gradually through your mouth. Incorporate this technique into various exercises, whether it’s outdoor activities, gym workouts, or weight training.
Pause lip breathing: This technique involves deep inhaling and exhaling in a slow pattern with a brief pause at the lips. It helps regulate your breath and promotes a controlled breathing pattern.
Nasal breathing: Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth or nose only. Nasal breathing filters, humidifies, and warms the air before it reaches your lungs. This technique is especially beneficial for individuals with respiratory issues.
Box breathing: Rapidly inhale, hold your breath, and then exhale. Box breathing relieves breathlessness associated with respiratory issues and promotes a sense of calm. Practice this technique before and after exercise sessions to maintain a balanced breathing pattern.
3. Wear Your Prescribed Therapy
Always wear any prescribed therapy, such as an inhaler, during your exercise routine. This ensures that you have quick access to your medication if needed.
4. Time Your Medication
Take your prescribed medication, including inhalers, before exercise as recommended by your healthcare provider. This can help prevent exercise-induced symptoms and keep your airways open during physical activity.
5. Begin with a Warm-up
Start your exercise routine with a slow and gradual warm-up. “This allows your body to adapt and primes your lungs for the forthcoming activity,” says Dr. Grover. Incorporate the breathing techniques mentioned earlier during your warm-up.
6. Listen to Your Body
Pay close attention to your body’s signals during exercise. If you experience any symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, pause immediately and use your inhaler if necessary. It’s crucial to prioritize your health and avoid pushing beyond your limits.
By prioritizing your health and taking necessary precautions, you can fully enjoy the benefits of exercise while effectively managing your asthma. Remember, it’s possible to have a fulfilling and active lifestyle even with asthma. So lace up your sneakers, take a deep breath, and get moving!