Some types of exercise are worse than others. For example, if you do different types of exercise that you use the same amount of oxygen, then some will cause more wheeziness or chest tightness than others.
Running outdoors is usually worse than swimming. In fact, swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for people with asthma because it usually causes the least amount of chest tightness.
Also, if the air you breathe during exercise is cold and dry, then the asthma will be worse. If it is warm and moist, the asthma will be less bad. This explains why swimming usually causes less asthma than outdoor running.
Increased breathing during exercise causes cooling and drying of the lining of the air passages and this is usually necessary for someone to get exercise-induced asthma. This explains why warm moist air protects against exercise-induced asthma. At this stage it is not understood why the drying and cooling of the airway linings causes the asthma episode.
Some people get worsening of their asthma from the chlorine fumes from swimming baths. This is another factor which can affect the result, and for such people swimming in a chlorinated pool is much worse than running.
The timing of the exercise is also important. It usually takes about six minutes of exercising to trigger an exercise-induced asthma, and exercising for less than this may not be enough to trigger the asthma.
In addition, for a few hours after you have had the exercise induced asthma, repeating the same amount of exercise will no longer produce the same amount of asthma symptoms, or may even produce no asthma symptoms at all.
Some people may be able to ‘run through’ their exercise induced asthma either by warming up with short bursts of exercise, or by continuous exercise which does not bring on a severe attack.
Sports and exercises which consist of short bursts of activity with periods of rest in between can be particularly suitable for people with asthma. For example :
- Long-distance or cross-country running are particularly strong triggers for asthma because they are undertaken outside in cold air without short breaks.
Team sports such as football or hockey are less likely to cause asthma symptoms as they are played in brief bursts with short breaks in between.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for people with asthma. The warm humid air in the swimming pool is less likely to trigger symptoms of asthma. However, swimming in cold water or heavily chlorinated pools may trigger asthma.
Yoga is a good type of exercise for people with asthma as it relaxes the body, reduces stress levels, and may also help with breathing.
There is also compelling evidence that gradual athletic training can make you less prone to exercise-induced asthma.
Better treatment with medicines can have a powerful effect on exercise-induced asthma. The better your asthma control, the less you will be troubled by exercise-induced asthma.
A lot of athletes, especially runners, suffer from exercise-induced asthma. This may be partly because an amount of asthma which does not matter to most people can mean the difference between winning and losing to an athlete.
If you are an athlete who suffers from exercise-induced asthma, then it is worth getting top-level specialist advice to help you solve it. Athletes train to levels of fitness which most ordinary people don’t even think about, so it is worth getting the best advice to help you manage the disease.
In the past, many Olympic medal winners have been asthmatic and have suffered from exercise-induced asthma. With the right help, advice, training, treatment, and self-discipline the problems can usually be overcome.
There are several steps that can be taken to help to reduce the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. These should be used with any medicines that your doctor has prescribed.
- Warm up and down.
Avoid the cold air. It can also help to cover the nose and mouth with a scarf in cold weather.
Stay fit. Good aerobic fitness can help to reduce exercise-induced asthma.