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World Asthma Day

Organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), World Asthma Day raises awareness and aims to improve care for asthmatics worldwide. With the awareness day falling on the first Tuesday of every May, Active Nation are dedicating this Locker edition to the benefits of exercise in relieving symptoms of asthma, as well as taking a look at the best types of sport exercise to participate in if you do find that exercise triggers your symptoms.

One common myth surrounding asthma is that it prevents people from living an active lifestyle. Whilst a small percentage of people with asthma do find that physical activity is a trigger for their symptoms, most people are able to exercise with little trouble. In fact, plenty of top athletes have asthma, including Paula Radcliffe, Bradley Wiggins and David Beckham!

Benefits of exercise:

For most people living with asthma, keeping fit will actually help to reduce the symptoms of asthma. Regular exercise helps to keep your lungs healthy meaning that the more you exercise, the less easily you will become breathless.

Moreover, maintaining a healthy weight is a key way you can reduce your risk of asthma attacks and symptoms.

Asthma symptoms can also be triggered by colds and coughs, so keeping active will boost your immune system, lowering your chances of illness and, in turn, of asthma symptoms.

As well as improving your physical health, exercise releases endorphins – “feel good” chemicals which can improve your mental health. Stress, anxiety and depression can increase your chances of experiencing symptoms so, for many people, regular exercise can be a great way to help ease asthma.

It is also more common for people to find that breathing in cold air can make symptoms worse, so if you find that exercise has triggered asthma symptoms, these may be reduced by exercising indoors during the winter months. It’s also a good idea to warm up and warm down properly before exercising, as this can help your airways to adjust.

Best exercises:

If you’re still suffering from particularly bad asthma, or if exercise seems to trigger your symptoms, then try forms of exercise that are low intensity and offer rest periods:

  • Walking is a great way to keep fit without getting out of breath, and studies show that walking can actually help to improve asthma control.[1]
  • If you love racket sports, then Badminton or Table Tennis are good choices as they involve less running than Squash and Tennis.
  • If team sports are your thing then try out Cricket or Rounders, as these give you opportunities to take a break in between bursts of activity.
  • Swimming is a fantastic way to work out the whole body whilst being able to stick to your own pace. The fact that you’re breathing in warm air can also help asthmatics. Excessive chlorine can trigger asthma attacks in some people however, so you may want to stick to low-chlorine pools.
  • Balance and strength based exercises such as Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi give you a great workout without you losing your breath. In fact, classes like Yoga and Tai Chi place a lot of focus on breath control, which can help to expand your lung capacity!

So, don’t let your asthma stop you from leading a healthy, active lifestyle. Even if you find that exercise can trigger your symptoms, there are plenty of ways you can keep fit without losing your breath. Speak to any Active Nation team member for advice on classes which might suit your needs and check out the activities we have on offer!


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