Build jogging endurance! Medium-Impact Indoor Cardio Workout
How to Build Cardio Stamina when You Have Asthma
About 300 million people on earth suffer from asthma, and many find that it makes exercise tough. Some people even experience asthma mainly as a result of cardio exercise. It’s important for asthma sufferers to exercise to reduce the risk of heart disease and control weight, but they must do so safely in order to prevent dangerous attacks. Regular cardio exercise can also help asthma sufferers reduce their symptoms.
Preparing for Cardio Exercise
Talk to your doctor.This may be the most important step you can take before doing cardio workouts if you suffer from asthma. Doctors can help you figure out which activities are best for your particular condition. They will also help you understand what to do if you have an asthma attack while you are exercising.
- If you’re planning to change your exercise routine, talk to your doctor. They might want to adjust your asthma medication accordingly.
Keep a rescue inhaler with you whenever you exercise.Even if you’ve taken as many precautions as possible, there’s still a chance that you could have an asthma attack during cardio. Take a rescue inhaler with you any time you plan to work out. Talk to your doctor about how to use your rescue inhaler correctly.
Check the weather report for asthma triggers.In particular, look out for high pollution days. If poor air quality tends to set off your asthma, stay indoors on those days. If you must exercise outdoors, reduce the amount of time you work out on days with high pollution. You might also want to wear a mask on those days.
Look for indoor activities.For many asthma sufferers, the outdoors is full of triggers such as pollen and air pollution. If you can find activities you enjoy indoors, these are usually the safest option. That doesn’t mean you can never exercise outside, just that you may have to be extra careful.
Wear a scarf or mask over your nose and mouth if it’s cold.Particularly if cold air tends to trigger your attacks, you need to protect your lungs. It might be best to do your cardio workouts indoors in the winter, but if you can’t, then cover up.
Avoid exercise when you are sick.Particularly if you have a respiratory virus such as a cold, this isn’t the best time to exercise.Exercising for too long (120 minutes or more) can also be harmful to your immune system, potentially making you sicker.
- If you feel like you must get up and about, consider a short walk instead of intense exercise. You could also do something very low-key like a simple yoga routine.
- It’s also a good idea to get a flu shot if you suffer from asthma.
Motivate yourself.People with asthma are often particularly reluctant to do cardio exercise because of the fear of an attack. If this is the case, find ways to motivate yourself to undertake cardio exercise.
- Make yourself a calendar or sticker chart. Every day that you get in a bit of cardio (even if it’s only a little), add a check or sticker.
- Reward yourself. As soon as you meet a cardio goal, give yourself a treat. Maybe a new pair of tennis shoes or some fancy yoga pants to inspire you to work out more!
- Find a buddy. Having a friend to join you in a workout is often very motivating and more fun than exercising alone.
Alert others about your risk of asthma attack.If you’re on a sports team, be sure your coach and the other players know what to do if you have an attack. If you work out with a buddy, make sure they can also recognize the symptoms of an attack and help you if you get into trouble.
- If you have a medical ID bracelet, be sure to wear it when you’re doing cardio exercises. For competitive sports, alert referees and other officials who might be concerned about “jewelry” on the playing field ahead of time.
- Let your workout buddies, coach, or teammates know where to find your rescue inhaler and how to use it, in case you need help.
Get workout advice from a trainer.If you work with a personal trainer or fitness coach, ask them for guidance about exercising at a safe level of intensity. If you have other health concerns, such as obesity, they can also offer advice on avoiding exercises that may compress or restrict your chest, such as sit-ups or face-down exercises.
Choosing Asthma-Friendly Exercises
Exercise in moist, warm air if possible.Cold, dry air going into your lungs causes airway constriction. For this reason, cold weather sports such as skiing, ice skating, and ice hockey are often a problem, so talk to your doctor if you’re interested in these sports.Many people with asthma enjoy water-based sports such as:
- lap swimming
- water polo
- synchronized swimming
- water aerobics
Be careful when exercising in chlorinated pools.Exposure to excessive chlorine can trigger an asthma attack. Look for pools that use alternative or combination methods of sterilization, such as chlorine mixed with salination or ozonation. Avoid swimming in pools that give off harsh or noxious chemical smells.
Choose activities that require intermittent exertion.Activities that require you to run for long periods of time often aren’t the best idea for people with asthma. There are a variety of sports and activities that allow you to take a break frequently, such as:Consider
- baseball and softball
- racquet sports
- short distance running
Use caution if you choose activities that require long periods of exertion.Activities like these are often a challenge for people with asthma, but that doesn't mean they're impossible. By following your doctor’s instructions, taking your medicine as directed, and warming up and cooling down properly, people with asthma CAN be successful at endurance sports, such as:
- cross-country running
- field hockey
Exercising with Asthma
Use your pre-exercise asthma medicine.Many people with asthma use an inhaler (often albuterol) before they work out. If your doctor has prescribed a medicine like this for you, be careful to use it as directed. If they haven’t prescribed something like this, check with them to see if you need one.
- Typically, you should use your pre-exercise medicine about 10 minutes before exerting yourself. Some require 15-20 minutes to kick in, so read the instructions carefully.
Warm up.This is particularly important with exercise-induced asthma. You may need to show up to practice a few minutes early to fit this in if you’re on a sports team.Researchers recommend 30 second sprints as an interval warm-up.
- Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds.
- Rest anywhere from 45 seconds to 5 minutes. Be sure you’re breathing normally before continuing.
- Repeat, doing a total of 8-10 sprints in all.
- Start exercising about 15-20 minutes after the interval warm-up.
Focus on breathing steadily.Work on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth as you exercise. Try to keep your breaths as even as possible. You may want to practice steady, even breathing on a treadmill or during a brisk walk if you are anticipating trying a new sport. That will help you get used to breathing correctly before you jump into a baseball or volleyball game.
Stop exercising if you don’t feel well.If you experience wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, or shortness of breath, take a break. If any of these symptoms become uncontrollable, follow the asthma plan you have developed with your doctor.
Use your rescue inhaler.If you find yourself experiencing symptoms such as wheezing, gasping, chest tightness, trouble speaking, or chest or stomach ache, stop exercising and use the inhaler immediately. If you find that your symptoms get worse, follow whatever asthma attack routine your doctor has advised.
Cool down.A good cool-down routine will help regulate your heart rate. Simply slow the pace of whatever exercise you’re doing for the last 5-10 minutes of your workout. Don’t shift gears and do a completely new kind of exercise; just make whatever you were already doing a bit simpler and slower.
- If you were running, slow down to a jog for the last 5-10 minutes.
- If you were jogging, slow down to a walk for the last 5-10 minutes.
- Include some deep, regular breaths as part of your cool down.
Be consistent and patient.The best way to build cardio stamina is to keep working at it over time. Try to get at least 20 minutes of cardio exercise 3 times a week. Don’t overdo it, but do keep working at it. Building cardiovascular strength takes time, and asthma can slow down this process. Do what you can until you become uncomfortable, and then try to do a little more the next day.
QuestionI have asthma and play basketball, what type of exercises should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI have asthma and dealt with this for years, I am the starting point guard for my team and I have no problem. Just do a lot of cardio and running to just get used to it.Thanks!
- If you or someone else experience any of the symptoms of an asthma attack, call your local emergency services or report to an emergency room immediately. Symptoms include severe difficulty breathing, emitting a high-pitched whistling noise, tight neck and chest muscles, bluish lips, very pale skin, difficulty speaking, uncontrollable coughing, or trouble walking.
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