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10 Tips for Exercising with Asthma and Allergies

Asthma can make life difficult, but proper treatment and care can reduce your risk of an asthma emergency. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet with regular exercise are essential to managing any chronic illness, but asthma and allergies can make exercise a real challenge.

Dr. Rafiquddin Rahimi, with Allergy Relief Clinics in Richardson, Texas, is using National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month to help you increase your activity in an easy, comfortable way. Let’s review the basics of asthma, then dive into some easy tips you can use to make that wheezing a thing of the past.

What are asthma and allergies?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. These passages contain soft, sensitive tissue that absorbs anything you breathe in, including allergens. When you breathe in something you’re allergic to, that sensitive tissue becomes inflamed, causing an allergic reaction.

This reaction causes your airways to narrow, limiting the amount of air your lungs can take in when you inhale. The narrowed airways may cause you to wheeze, cough, and experience chest tightness and trouble breathing.

Why do I have trouble breathing when I exercise?

This is a great question! Doctors don’t know exactly what causes this reaction in your airways when you exercise. What they do know is that many people with asthma don’t exercise for fear that the physical activity will trigger asthma symptoms. Up to 90% of people with asthma report having symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath when they exercise.

Ways to relax the airways when you exercise

Here are 10 tips for keeping those asthma symptoms at bay while you exercise:

1. Consult your doctor

Talk to Dr. Rahimi before you start a new exercise routine. He can help you find a workout and medication regimen that will keep your asthma symptoms in check.

2. Choose the right environment

Don’t exercise in frigid temperatures. Extremely cold air can trigger your airways to spasm when you start exercising. If it’s cold outside, consider an indoor activity.

3. Use a scarf

If you have to be outside, wrap a scarf around your neck and mouth and breathe through the scarf. This helps to warm the air before you breathe it into your lungs, which decreases the risk of spasms.

4. Rest when sick

Don’t exercise with a cold, flu, or other lung illness. Allow your body to recover before you hit the gym.

5. Always warm up and cool down

Your lungs need time to adjust to the increased activity and airflow. Create a warm-up routine to prepare your lungs for the activity ahead. After you’ve completed your exercise, do a short cooldown to let your lungs slowly work back into a normal rhythm.

6. Find the right kind of exercise

Exercise routines and sports with short, intermittent bursts of energy work best for people with asthma. Find an activity that allows for frequent rest periods, such as walking, biking, hiking, golf, yoga, or gymnastics.

7. Try swimming

Swimming is a great way to exercise. The area around the pool is warm and humid, which is a good environment for your lungs. Indoor pools can sometimes be irritating to people with asthma, so pay close attention to your symptoms.

8. Keep your inhaler close by

Never exercise if you don’t have your inhaler with you. If you start to feel chest tightness, stop your activity and use your inhaler.

9. Check the pollen counts

If you’re planning to exercise outside, make a daily habit of checking the pollen counts. Exercise on days when the count is lowest. Once you’re done, take a shower immediately to wash the pollen off your hair and skin, and toss all your clothes into the hamper.

10. Pick the right time

Exercise first thing in the morning or late in the evening. The cooler air and lower pollution rates will make breathing a bit easier.

Exercising with asthma is challenging, but working these tips into your routine can help you breathe easier and enjoy your activity more. If you have any questions about your allergy or asthma condition, call our office or book an appointment online today.

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