Regular exercise is essential to maintain overall health and well-being. But for people with asthma, it can present unique challenges. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, can cause breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness during physical exertion. However, with proper precautions and management, individuals with asthma can safely engage in exercise and enjoy its numerous benefits. Let us take a look at some expert recommended tips on how to exercise with asthma.
How to safely exercise with asthma?
Health Shots spoke to Dr Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of critical care and Pulmonology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, for tips to exercise safely with asthma. Here’s what he suggests.
1. Consult your healthcare provider
Before beginning any exercise routine, it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider to ensure that your asthma is well-controlled. They can provide valuable insights into your specific condition and recommend appropriate medications or inhalers to manage your symptoms effectively.
2. Make use of breathing techniques
“Proper breathing techniques have a substantial impact on improving lung function and reducing asthma symptoms while engaging in physical activity,” says Dr Grover. Here are four breathing techniques that can be beneficial for individuals with asthma:
* Diaphragmatic breathing: Start with a slow and gradual warm-up, focusing on deep breathing exercises. According to Dr Grover, diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep breathing, strengthens the diaphragm, the primary muscle involved in breathing. Take deep breaths through your nostrils, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale gradually through your mouth. Incorporate this technique into various types of exercises, whether it’s outdoor activities, gym workouts, or weight training.
* Pause lip breathing: Another technique involves deep inhaling and exhaling in a slow pattern with a brief pause at the lips. This technique helps regulate your breath and promotes a more controlled breathing pattern.
* Nasal breathing: Inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth or nose only is known as nasal breathing. This technique helps filter the air, humidify it, and warm it up before it reaches your lungs. Nasal breathing can be especially beneficial for individuals with respiratory issues,” says Dr Grover.
* Box breathing: Box breathing involves rapid inhalation, followed by holding the breath, and then exhaling. This technique helps relieve breathlessness associated with respiratory issues and promotes a sense of calm. Practice this technique before and after exercise sessions to maintain a balanced breathing pattern.
Also read: Yoga for asthma: 3 asanas to improve lung capacity
3. Wear your prescribed therapy
Dr Grover advises that you should always wear any prescribed therapy, such as an inhaler, during your exercise routine. This ensures that you have quick access to your medication if needed.
4. Medication timing
Take your prescribed medication, including inhalers, prior to exercise as recommended by your healthcare provider. This can help prevent exercise-induced symptoms and keep your airways open during physical activity.
5. Start with a warm-up
Begin your exercise routine with a slow and gradual warm-up. “This enables your body to adapt and primes your lungs for the forthcoming activity,” says Dr Grover. Incorporate the breathing techniques mentioned earlier during your warm-up.
Also read: World Asthma Day: How weight management can improve asthma symptoms
6. Listen to your body
Pay attention to your body’s signals during exercise. If you experience any symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath, pause immediately and use your inhaler if necessary. It is essential to prioritize your health and not push beyond your limits.
By prioritizing your health and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of exercise while managing your asthma effectively.