If you have asthma, you may feel like you can’t participate in sports or exercise the way that other people can. In fact, however, there are steps that you can take that can give you the freedom to participate in any type of sport that interests you.
By taking the right medications and training your body correctly, you can pursue your favorite athletic endeavors without having to worry about your asthma holding you back. When the weather turns cold, however, you may need to take a few extra steps to protect yourself against asthma attacks because of the dryness in the air.
Most people with asthma can relate to the following scenario: as you start working out, you start to feel your chest tightening or have abnormal breathing. It gradually becomes more difficult to breathe until you are wheezing and coughing. If you experience these types of exercise-induced asthma attacks, it is because your airways don’t respond appropriately when faced with certain temperatures or humidity levels in the air.
Most people breathe through their noses when they are just sitting around relaxing. As the air moves into the nasal passages, it is naturally moistened and becomes much warmer. When you exercise, however, you are far more likely to breathe in through your mouth. As a result, the air hitting your lungs is a lot drier and a lot colder.
This can be particularly problematic if you enjoy wintertime activities like skiing, ice hockey, or snowboarding. When you experience an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding your airways tighten, making it difficult for air to get through. This sensation can be further compounded by colds or respiratory infections.
Relaxing Your Airways
Fortunately, there are quite a few different ways that you can combat exercise-induced asthma including the following:
- Try inhaling an approved asthma medicine approximately 20 minutes before you exercise. For instance, many doctors advise their patients to inhale albuterol prior to working out. If you have a long-acting medication, you can generally get relief for as long as 12 hours. Depending on your condition, you may also need to use an anti-inflammatory medication to calm your airways. Talk to your doctor about developing a personalized treatment plan.
- Wrap a scarf over your mouth. Breathing through the fabric of the scarf helps warm and moisturize the air, making it less likely to irritate your lungs.
- Don’t work out outdoors during periods of extremely cold weather. Instead, choose indoor activities on days when the temperature outside is too cold.
- Skip your workout if you have a cold or if you are feeling sick.
- Warm-up for at least 10 minutes before you work out. After you are done exercising, give your body a chance to unwind by cooling down for 10 minutes, as well. This is not only good for your airways but also for your body.
- Choose activities that involve short bursts of exercise rather than extreme endurance. For instance, sports like baseball or football are usually a lot easier on asthma patients than sports that require more endurance like marathon running or soccer.
- Consider taking up swimming. People who suffer from exercise-induced asthma generally do better in warm, humid environments. Because of that, swimming is the perfect activity.
If you have exercise-induced asthma, it is important to sit down with your doctor and talk to them about your exercise routine. They can help you come up with a plan that will allow you to control your asthma while at the same time participating in the types of sports and activities that you enjoy.