Asthma and Exercise

Just because a person has asthma, it doesn't mean he or she can't participate in sports or other forms of exercise. Some sports (such as basketball) are more likely to trigger asthma symptoms than others. Statistics indicate that exercise-induced asthma occurs in almost 40 percent of individuals who have allergic rhinitis or atopic dermatitis.

Asthma and Exercise: An Introduction

Exercise-induced asthma is the development of asthma symptoms during exercise. This type of asthma triggers the airways to become narrower, and less air flows through to your lung tissues. For those with exercise-induced asthma, it can be hard to exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time. Symptoms typically start after 5 to 20 minutes of nonstop exercise, and may include cough, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and/or chest tightness.

Treating Exercise-Induced Asthma

Regular physical exercise is important for good health. If physical activity brings on asthma symptoms, work with your healthcare provider to find the best way to avoid having symptoms when you exercise.
Some people with asthma use inhaled quick-relief medication before exercising to keep their symptoms under control. If you use your asthma medication as directed and learn how to pace yourself, you should be able to take part in any physical activity or sport you choose. In fact, many Olympic athletes have asthma.
Warming up and cooling down for at least 15 minutes before and after exercise may help lessen your symptoms. Avoiding exercise in extremely cold temperatures or when pollen levels are high may also help reduce your symptoms.
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