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Does Running Help Asthma?

by
author image Kristeen Cherney
Kristeen Cherney began writing healthy lifestyle and education articles in 2008. Since then, her work has appeared in various online publications, including Healthline.com, Ideallhealth.com and FindCollegeInfo.com. Cherney holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Florida Gulf Coast University and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English.
Does Running Help Asthma?
Running can increase the risk of exercise-induced asthma. Photo Credit littlehenrabi/iStock/Getty Images

Running is a rigorous exercise that asthmatics can participate in. Exercising can help strengthen your defenses against an asthma attack. Running may not be the best option if you suffer from asthma attacks frequently after running. According to the New York Times, 40 to 90 percent of asthma attacks are attributed to exercise, a condition called exercise-induced asthma. With proper treatment and control, running may actually be beneficial to asthmatics.

Symptoms

Symptoms of asthma include breathing difficulties, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and rapid breathing. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America attributes exercise-induced asthma to breathing in through the mouth during workouts. Breathing in through your mouth during exercise dries and cools the airways, causing inflammation.

Weather Conditions

The weather also plays a role in how your asthma tolerates running. Warm, humid air is best for your airways as it helps loosen them up. Cold, dry air can cause the airways to constrict, resulting in asthma symptoms. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advises asthmatics against exercising in outside in cold weather and against workouts such as ice skating. The Foundation reports that pollen, mold and pollution counts also play a role in exercise-induced asthma. On such days, it is best to run indoors.

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Preparation

Warming up before running and cooling down afterward is important in bringing down your body temperature and heart rate. According to the New York Times, these steps also help prevent exercise-induced asthma attacks. Take time before running to stretch, walk and then ease into running. After your workout is complete, slow down your pace down to a walk and stretch out your muscles. The New York Times states that, given the prevalence of asthma triggers outdoors, it is in your best interest to and run on an indoor track.

Alternate Activities

Although exercise generally helps strengthens your body, running may not be the best option, especially if you are prone to exercise-induced asthma. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, running as well as other types of aerobic sports such as basketball are the most likely to cause asthma symptoms. However, this does not mean that asthmatics should not and do not benefit from exercise. The Foundation suggests doing other activities that are not as intense. These include swimming, walking, gymnastics, baseball and volleyball.

Prevention/Solution

Having asthma does not mean you cannot run. Lack of cardiovascular activity is detrimental to lung function as well as other parts of your body like the heart. To prevent asthma symptoms associated with running and any other activity, you must follow a consistent treatment plan. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America outlines three types of medications that control exercise-induced asthma: a short-acting bronchodilator, a long-acting bronchodilator and nedocromil or cromolyn. All types of medications are taken before exercise. If you experience symptoms during and after running, you can re-take the short-acting bronchodilator.

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