Not only does asthma affect over 25 million Americans, the number of cases has been growing since the 1980s. Swollen airways overproduce mucus, making it hard to breathe, which can be a serious complication if you’re trying to stay active or participate in sports.
Yet, staying active can help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. It can be hard to find a balance, but it’s not impossible, and your efforts can be repaid with reduced asthma symptoms. Here are some tips and tricks from the team at Wasatch Peak Family Practice that may help you get active, have fun, and breathe easy.
Know the benefits of exercise
Asthma typically requires a treatment plan, a collection of therapies that, working together, improve your quality of life and reduce the impact of asthma on your daily living. While breathing difficulties may intuitively suggest that you avoid vigorous activities, regular exercise can improve the way your lungs work.
In addition, physical activity boosts your immune system’s function, meaning that you’re better equipped to fight off colds and other respiratory infections that can complicate breathing even more when you have asthma.
Exercise encourages weight loss, and if you’re carrying some extra pounds, dropping the excess can reduce the burden on your lungs, making asthma attacks less frequent. The natural endorphins released during exercise also combat stress and depression.
Choose the right activities
Sports and exercises that produce short bursts of exertion are often best suited for asthmatics. Suitable team sports include things like baseball, volleyball, and wrestling, while solo pursuits such as hiking and biking easily adapt to your activity level. Swimming also adapts to the level of exertion you’re most comfortable with, and the warm, moist air around the pool is soothing for you to breathe.
Distance running or biking, soccer, and basketball each call for extended levels of exertion that may prove difficult to manage if your airways become irritated. Catching your breath can always be tricky, and the presence of asthma adds to the burden. Similarly, cold weather sports like ice hockey or skiing can bring on asthma attacks as you breathe cold, dry air. There are no hard rules though. Asthmatics can usually find a way to enjoy their favorite sports.
Warm-up is key
Warming up is always important before any sporting activity, and it’s even more crucial when you have asthma. Equally, a cool-down session after exertion can ease your breathing back to normal. The important takeaway from this is avoiding shock on your respiratory system, which can sometimes act as a trigger for asthma attacks.
Use your medications
Talk to your Wasatch Peak Family Practice caregiver about how you can use your bronchodilators or oral asthma medications to ease your breathing through exercise. Timing your meds can make life that much easier while you’re getting that beneficial activity.
The physicians at Wasatch Peak Family Practice are asthma care specialists. When it’s time to update your asthma management plan, or when you want to add a new sport or physical activity, call the office or request an appointment online. Your caregiver is always ready to ensure that your asthma stays under control.