Asthma: How to exercise safely if it’s a trigger for your health condition
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Ninety percent of people with asthma report symptoms during exercise, as stated by Asthma UK. Considering it’s the key to longevity and wards off disease, what’s the safest way for an asthmatic to work out?
During any activity that increases your pulse rate – such as jogging – it’s normal if you:
- Get flushed
- Breathe faster and more deeply
- Get hot and sweaty
However, the charity Asthma UK points out signs you’re asthma isn’t well managed.
If, during exercise, any of the following signs occur, you need to make an appointment with your GP. These are:
- Coughing or wheezing
- Gasping for air, very short of breath, or can’t get enough air
- Tightness in your chest
An asthma attack may follow, which can be identified from the following scenarios:
- Your reliever inhaler doesn’t help
- Your symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheeze or tight chest)
- You’re too breathless to speak
- Your breathing keeps getting faster, instead of slowing down like it normally would after exercise.
“Staying on top of your asthma is the best way to cut your risk of an attack from exercise,” clarified Asthma UK.
This involves taking your (usually brown) preventer inhaler regularly, as prescribed.
Make sure you’re using the inhaler correctly, which can be shown to you by a doctor or nurse (or online).
It’s advisable to use an up-to-date written asthma action plan, and to keep it where you can see it.
Moreover, make sure you attend regular asthma reviews – at least once a year.
If you’re surgery hasn’t invited you for an asthma review, you can book an appointment yourself.
A spirometry and peak flow test in the doctor’s surgery can determine how well your lungs are functioning.
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Tips when exercising
Asthma UK advise to carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you when you go to exercise.
If symptoms flare up, take a couple of puffs of the reliever inhaler to relieve signs of asthma.
It’s helpful to warm up and warm down for 10 to 15 minutes before and after exercising.
Do avoid exercising when there’s too much pollution or pollen around – as they’re known triggers.
In colder weather, the dry air can irritate your already sensitive airways.
Thus, it’s preferable to exercise indoors, or to do less vigorous activity outside, such as a brisk walk instead of jogging.
While walking outside, it’s wise to keep your chest and throat covered, while keeping a scarf around your nose.
This helps to warm up the air, so it’s less likely to set off asthma symptoms.
If your asthma is well managed, you should be able to enjoy exercise and all the benefits of being active.
Staying active can help beat stress, cuts your chances of diabetes, and keeps your heart healthy.
The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week – that’s anything that raises your heart rate.
Examples include swimming, jogging, a brisk walk, riding a bicycle or dancing.
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