As asthma specialists, we are often asked which sports are the best exercises for asthma? There are approximately 25 million Americans with asthma and exercise may cause no problems at all. But for some, it can trigger shortness of breath and other asthma symptoms. That doesn’t have to stop most people from exercising though, 1 in 12 Olympic athletes takes asthma medication.
It its important to make sure your asthma is well controlled with proper medication and to choose your sports wisely.
Best Exercises for Asthma
- Walking. A study showed that for those who walked 3 times a week for 12 weeks improved their asthma control and fitness levels compared to those who did not. They walked for 30 minutes at a time, with 5 minutes of warm up and cooldown. A moderate to brisk walk is the best way to walk and warming up is very important.
- Yoga. Yoga really helps with breath control, breathing exercises can activate more areas of the lung. One study shoed that people who practiced yoga for 2.5 hours a week were able to cut down on their asthma medications. Tai Chi, which also emphasizes breathing would give a similar benefit.
- Baseball. As a general rule, start-and-stop activities do not trigger asthma as much as an activity which causes an accelerated heart rate and breathing rate for 5-6 minutes. Baseball, which has significant downtime between plays is a safer sport for asthma.
- Golf. Golf is not likely to induce an asthma attack. The activity is staggered, with swinging and walking. Although those with pollen allergies, may want to take that into factor before playing. Many asthmatics have an allergic component to their asthma and may want to stay inside if the pollen counts are high.
- Swimming. This is the ideal sport for asthma because you are breathing in air that is highly humidified and warm. Being in the horizontal position also loosens mucus accumulated in the bottom of your lung. But be careful of pools that have excessive chlorine which can trigger an asthma attack. Dr. Khadavi discusses Asthma Risk Higher For Infants Who Swim Indoors
- Tennis. Tennis and racquet sports allow you to expend energy with regular rests between games, and it also allows frequent access to water. You also have control of the pace of the game and if you are playing doubles the activity is even less intense.
- Volleyball. Volleyballs is faster in start and stop than other sports, but there isn’t much movement involved and when a player does run, its on smaller court with multiple teammates.
Worst Exercises for Asthma
- Basketball. There is too much running up and down the court and not enough time to rest for most asthmatics. This doesn’t mean basketball is out of the question, but players will need to pace themselves and take frequent rests.
- Soccer. Players are running non-stop in this sport. The level of activity can trigger a flare up.
Best and Worst Exercises for Asthma
- Biking. Leisurely biking isn’t likely to exacerbate asthma. But at higher speeds (18 mph), asthma may worsen. The rapid in and out breathing can dry airways and trigger an asthma attack. Mountain biking may require heavy breathing. Warming up is highly recommended before exertion to lessen the severity of symptoms.
- Skiing: Cross country skiing may be the worst exercise for asthma. This strenuous exercise lead to heavy breathing, and with the cold weather, it can dry out the airways. Downhill skiing is though gentle on the airways. You are not heavily exerting yourself as you are going down the mountain.
- Football: The many breaks in action can reduce the chances of exacerbations. Although the violence of the sport can lead to concussions.
- Running: Short distance running isn’t likely to provoke exercise induced asthma, but long distance running could cause problems. The heavy breathing can dry and irritate airways.
If you have any concerns regarding your asthma, and need to discuss further what exercises for asthma are good or bad, speak to an asthma doctor who can help further guide you and run necessary tests.