Exercise And Asthma
When kids are diagnosed with asthma, sometimes parents think they can't exercise safely. There's good news, kids with asthma can be active, play, and excel at team sports.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease causing symptoms of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Some people are genetically predisposed to have asthma, and others have environmental exposures increasing the risk for asthma
Some of the triggers that may start or make an attack worse include exposure to allergens, viral respiratory infections, airway irritants, exercise, pet dander, and temperature change.
You can prevent asthma attacks by doing the following:
- Bathe your pets weekly.
- Don't smoke or permit smoking in your home.
- When mold or pollen counts are high, you should stay inside with air conditioning.
- Wash your bedding and any stuffed toys at least once per week in hot water.
- Wash your hands every chance you get.
- Get a flu shot.
- Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose in the winter months.
- Be proactive and know your triggers and how you should avoid them.
Now that you know what you know about asthma, you may be wondering where exercise fits in the picture. As most doctors will tell you, you shouldn't give up on sports or exercise at all. You just have to be smart about how you play and take special precautions to avoid attacks.
Almost all doctors agree that the best way to prevent attacks during exercise is to keep your child's inhaler and medications close by. A child should never use their inhaler more than 2-3 times during a game or exercise session. If your child is up the previous night with coughing and wheezing, it's always best to do less strenuous exercise the next day.
For something known as EIA (Exercise Induced Asthma), the symptoms are somewhat different and appear after 6 - 10 minutes of exercise. Often exercise induced asthma will be worse in cold or dry air.
If your child has EIA, there are several activities they can enjoy such as swimming, walking, biking, downhill skiing, sprinting, and team-based sports. There are many activities for them to choose from, to ensure they get the exercise they need as well.
Keep in mind that asthma isn't "all in your head", it is a real physiologic medical condition that requires intervention to prevent and treat symptoms. Even though your doctor gives you the right medication, as a parent, you will be your child's best opportunity to prevent and treat asthma symptoms.
Always be proactive and have medications ready to be used. Don't let asthma make you or your child miserable. Take control of your child's asthma so they can enjoy exercise and be healthy.