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You might think that exercise is bad for asthma, but when done safely, it’s actually one of the more effective natural asthma remedies. Don’t let your symptoms hold you back from getting regular physical activity. Your asthma, as well as your overall health, will benefit tremendously if you exercise more.
Many People with Asthma Avoid Exercising
It isn’t surprising that people with asthma often avoid exercise. It can be scary to do something that makes you short of breath when you already have a condition that makes it hard to breathe. This often leads to a harmful cycle, with the fear of exercising leading to declining physical fitness, which may actually make symptoms even worse.
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But asthma doesn’t have to be a barrier to exercise. In fact, studies show that exercise is generally well tolerated in people with asthma. If proper precautions are taken, you can exercise safely and benefit significantly.
Exercise Can Improve Your Symptoms
Physical activity helps to improve physical fitness and quality of life. In a review of 21 studies, researchers found that exercise helped improve cardiopulmonary fitness and increased the maximum oxygen uptake, making breathing more efficient.
Exercise can also directly improve asthma symptoms themselves and reduce corticosteroid medication use. A recent study published in the journal Thorax compared the effects of 30-minute aerobic training twice a week to 30 minutes of yoga breathing exercises (a control) twice a week in people with moderate to severe asthma.
The results of the 12-week study found that the aerobic training program improved quality of life, asthma exacerbations, bronchial hyper-responsiveness (the speed at which the airway contracts in asthma), and levels of pro-inflammatory compounds called cytokines. These results confirm the theory that exercise can actually be quite beneficial in providing direct relief from asthma.
Safe Exercise for Asthmatics
Most people with asthma tolerate exercise quite well, but it is still important to take into account several safety considerations before beginning an exercise program:
- Work closely with your doctor. Don’t start an exercise program without discussing it with your doctor first, so that you can talk about how to best prepare for exercise and what to do if symptoms do occur during exercise.
- Make sure to warm up and cool down. These are vital to any healthy exercise program, especially if you have asthma. Many asthmatics need a longer, slower warm up.
- Beware of cold weather. Cold air could make your symptoms worse. Try to exercise inside when it is too cold outside, or wear a scarf over your nose and mouth if outside.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. Make sure to exercise at an intensity that works best for you, and don’t overdo it.
Don’t Let Asthma Hold You Back
Exercise is a vital part of maintaining good physical and mental health. It helps fight depression, keeps your bones healthy, maintains good digestive health, and protects against memory loss, to name a few of the many benefits. And now, you can add improving your asthma symptoms to that list.
So don’t let asthma be a reason for not exercising. You might just feel better than ever if you add regular exercise to your asthma treatment plan.
Share Your Experience
Do have asthma? If so, do you exercise regularly? What tips do you have for doing physical activity with asthma? What other natural asthma remedies do you use? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated.