Asthma – What Is It? Can I Still Exercise?

Asthma is a common disease that affects airflow and breathing. Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Symptoms may be worse at night, early morning or also in response to exercise or cold air. If any of these symptoms are present, a consultation with your family physician is recommended.

what is asthma - lungs

Although shortness of breath is the cardinal sympton of asthma, some people may experience primarily coughing. In late stages, air movement may become difficult as well as a feeling of tightness in the chest.


Asthma may be environmental (allergies) or there may be genetic factors at play. Treatments will depend on what the primary cause is and also how well asthma will respond to medication.


asthma inhaler

Medicine such as inhaled corticosteriods help to suppress inflammation and reduce the swelling of the airways.

Exercise Induced Asthma:

exercise induced asthma

For some, exercise can trigger an asthma attack. High levels of ventilation or cold, dry air can also trigger an attack. For that reason, activities such as skiing or running may worsen symptoms in people with asthma.

Intense aerobic exercise may also trigger an asthma attack. Breathing through the mouth, often required during demanding activites, does not allow the air to be warmed by the nose.This may trigger an asthma attack.

Prevention/Treatment of E.I.A.:

The most common treatment is medication, in the form of a steriod inhaler, about twenty minutes prior to exercise.

runners with inhaler

It is also adviseable to have an inhaler with you during an exercise or workout session.

Even with a diagnosis of asthma, exercise is possible. Learning your exercise tolerance is also advisable and keeping an inhaler close at hand will allow you to exercise safely.

An excellent resource for information about asthma is:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

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