Contributed by- Krushna Charan

Asthma is a type of respiratory condition that has grown disproportionately throughout the world over the past 30 years. When somebody suffers from Asthma it causes their airways to narrow, swell and produce extra mucus. This leads to breathing difficulty and triggers coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) during breathing out and also causes shortness of breath.

Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. For some, asthma is a minor nuisance. But for some, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. Though physical activities can become a challenge for people with asthma, regular exercise can actually help in controlling asthma symptoms by improving lung and cardiovascular health. Here we are going to discuss how regular exercising can have a positive impact in terms of controlling asthma symptoms, contrary to popular belief, the exercises that can give the best results and even what exercises to avoid so that asthma doesn’t get aggravated. 


How exercise can help you manage asthma symptoms?

Regular exercise can manage asthma symptoms by boosting the immune system to lessen the severity of symptoms. Exercise has many benefits in terms of managing asthma which are as follows:

  • Managing weight can manage asthma: Excess fat around the neck or chest and abdomen might constrict the lungs and make it harder to breathe. Regular exercise plays a vital role in weight management which can improve endurance and manage the symptoms of asthma.


  • Improving cardiovascular health helps: Increasing your heart rate regularly enhances your lung power, which increases stamina and helps reduce breathlessness. Good cardiovascular health supports your immune system and helps fight colds and viruses that is a major trigger for inducing asthma attacks in 80% of the cases.


  • Exercising is proven to reduce inflammation in the respiratory system: Studies have shown that moderate exercising can help in reducing allergic airway inflammation. Inflammation of the airways worsens the asthma symptoms, hence reduced or no inflammation in the airways can be helpful in managing it.


  • Exercise improves lung capacity to help reduce asthma symptoms: Asthma symptoms are directly linked to reduced lung capacity. Hence improving lung capacity through mild physical or breathing exercises can make the lungs function more efficiently and help keep them strong. Regular exercises therefore can be effective in managing asthma symptoms because stronger lungs get more oxygen and improve the respiratory rate.

[Also read: How much exercise is too much exercise?]


What are the best exercises to control asthma?

  • Swimming: Swimming is one of the best exercises for people suffering from asthma. The air near swimming pools is low in pollen content, and breathing in moist, warm air and feeling pressure of the fluid on the chest, can have a positive effect in terms of reducing asthmatic symptoms.


  • Walking: Walking is another great option for asthmatic people because it is a low-intensity exercise and it is easier to breathe during walking. Walking in warm weather is better than cold weather because cold and dry air can trigger asthma symptoms.


  • Cycling: Cycling at a leisurely pace is a very gentle activity that doesn’t involve too much exertion. Hence it is considered to be one of the most effective exercises for asthma patients.


  • Yoga: Yoga can help to control breathing and improve lung capacity. Yoga can improve posture and make breathing better by opening the chest muscles.


  • Sports: Some short bursting sports including baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, and badminton are favourable for people with asthma. Group leisure activities like hiking are also proven to be effective for asthma patients.



Which exercises should be avoided if you have asthma?

People with asthma should avoid high-intensity exercises, at least until they build up endurance. Running, jogging, or high-intensity sports can be too much for a person with asthma if they are not accustomed to exercising.

It is also important to pay attention to the environment before exercising. For example, if pollen counts are high or the air is cool and dry, it is likely to be better to exercise indoors to reduce the risk of asthma flare-ups. It is also better to avoid exercising in cold, dry environments since they can also cause asthma flare-ups.

[Also read: How diet can help you to deal with asthma?]


How to control asthma during exercise?

The best thing to do for a person with asthma to prevent an asthma attack is to exercise keeping the following in mind:


  • Use inhaler before exercise
  • Warm-up before exercise
  • Wear a mask in cold weather to avoid dry air
  • Avoid polluted environments 


Regular exercising can hugely benefit people with this condition. Particularly those types of exercises that focus on regular breathing and increasing lung capacity. However, it’s best to consult a doctor and take advice on choosing the exercises that would suit you best and stay safe from asthma flare-ups while exercising. 

Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but in the case of asthma, constant practice, and the right approach to any type of breathing exercise can be beneficial. 


Know your health status