When Julie Manning, a Gilbert grandmother, was a child, asthma medications were far less advanced than they are today. The general attitude physicians had toward asthma reflected the lack of medical advances, and asthma itself was more frequently misunderstood. Julie remembers as a fifth-grader her pediatrician telling her that she would have to stop all physical activity in an attempt to prevent asthma attacks. She remembers the rush to the doctor’s office and the shots of adrenaline that she had to undergo whenever she had an attack. She remembers taking a pill in the middle of the night at the onset of an attack and waiting the hour or more until she could breathe again while she read sitting up in bed. Julie jokes that she owes her loves of books (and perhaps cookies) to those late night sessions waiting for her asthma medication to work, but she felt like her life was greatly diminished at the time.
While that may have been early thinking in the prevention of asthma attacks, today Julie and millions of asthma-sufferers around the world know that physical activity is important to controlling asthma and that with the use of preventative medications, rescue inhalers, and a fitness routine designed for asthmatics, most people can be fit.
Exercise and your lungs
Asthmatics know that the healthier their lungs are the healthier and more symptom-free they are. Also, general fitness contributes to overall health in asthmatics making the duration of seasonal illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia less severe and less frequent. Doctors and medical researchers definitely agree that asthmatics can be fit and owe it to themselves to be, but must take proper precautions to exercise correctly, and with proper pre-exercise as well as rescue medicines available.
Stephanie Peters, a college-age asthmatic in Tempe says, “The main thing for me to remember is that I have to always use my preventative inhaler each day-as well as take my rescue inhaler with me when I run. I just wear a fanny pack when I run or zip my inhaler into my pocket. Also, I am careful about warming up slowly and cooling down as well. I never just stop; I always cool down, and then stretch. I also make sure I am hydrated and never run outside on high pollution days.”
While running is definitely not for all asthmatics, perhaps only the super fit, there are definitely other exercises that even the most sedentary asthmatic can begin with successfully and without suffering the onset of asthma symptoms.
How to Start
If you are an asthmatic and are not currently exercising, begin with a complete doctor’s checkup and outline your proposed plan of exercise with your doctor. Together you can plan how to begin, and when to use your medication for best results. Low impact exercises are a good way to start, and walking is a wonderful beginning for anyone who has not been exercising regularly. Swimming is another superb exercise for asthmatics. The repetitive breathing of lap swimming along with the moist air makes for a good workout experience for most asthmatics. Also consider other low impact fitness regimens like Pilates, or weight training.
Remember, fitness is a process-and a small step toward it today will improve your overall health and quite possibly reduce your asthma symptoms over time.
Remember the Gilbert Asthma Examiner is for information purposes only, please consult your doctor regarding your asthma.