There are currently 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK*. For those who feel well and keep their symptoms under control by using their medicines correctly, exercise shouldn’t be a problem. In some cases it could even be beneficial to exercise, since exercise helps boost lung capacity, which can make even the most ordinary everyday activity that much easier.
During exercise you breathe harder and the air reaching your lungs is colder and drier than usual, which can irritate the airways. This reaction often means those living with asthma often avoid exercise, but there are ways to manage your asthma so that exercise doesn’t cause unnecessary symptoms.
Getting ahead of the game
The first thing you should do if you have asthma and have decided to be more physically active is to discuss how well your asthma is currently controlled with your pharmacist.
Some people have exercise-induced asthma, which means they only get symptoms when they’re physically active. If this is the case, you’ll need extra help to manage your symptoms when you work out – for instance you may need to use your reliever inhaler (usually the blue one) before you start.
Even if your GP hasn’t said you should use your reliever inhaler before exercising, make sure you always have it with you when you’re taking part in any kind of physical activity.
It’s important to get a good understanding of which exercises are most suitable for you as you may find some exercises feel more comfortable than others.
How to get started
In most cases, there’s no limit on the type of exercise or sport you can do if you’re an adult who has well-controlled asthma. You should aim to be active every day and do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.
Top Tip: Try brisk walking, cycling, jogging, dancing, swimming or other activities that are less likely to trigger asthma symptoms.
However, you may want to start slowly – just five minutes a day may be enough at first – and build up gradually. Also try to remember to warm up and cool down before and after working out.
Everyone breathes harder and faster when they exercise, asthma or no asthma. But it’s important to stop and use your reliever inhaler if you experience.
- Coughing or wheezing
- Significant shortness of breath
- Tightness in your chest
- Difficulty speaking
If you frequently experience one or more of these symptoms when you exercise – and you haven’t been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma – it could be a sign that you’re not controlling your asthma very well. So if it keeps happening, speak to your pharmacist for further advice.