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Why Is Swimming Good for Asthma?

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Why Is Swimming Good for Asthma?
The warm, moist pool environment can help asthmatics breathe better. Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

A healthy lifestyle and regular exercise can help asthmatics keep their asthma under control – and lessen the chances of vigorous activity triggering an asthma attack. It can also help them control their weight and stay active and fit. Some people, however, find that vigorous aerobic activity and certain types of exercise can exacerbate their asthma symptoms and make it difficult to exercise. Many asthmatics find that swimming provides them with a good, year-round exercise option that gives them with an effective full-body workout.

Healthy Exercise Environment

Dry, cold air can trigger an asthma attack, which can interfere with asthmatics' ability to exercise regularly during the cold, winter months. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation recommends swimming as a good exercise option for people with exercise-induced asthma since the warm, moist air found in indoor pool environments can improve their ability to breath during exercise sessions.

Improved Asthma Symptoms

Swimming can increase lung volume, improve asthmatic’s general fitness and help them develop good breathing techniques, according to Wang Jeng-Shing from the Taipei Medical University. Jeng-Shing authored a study, published in the August 20, 2009 edition of “Respirology,” which evaluated the effects of exercise on asthmatic 30 children between the ages of seven to twelve. He found that children who participated in a six-week swimming class, in addition to taking their regular asthma medications, showed significant improvement in their symptoms, hospitalizations, school absenteeism and emergency room visits.

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Potential Disadvantages

The chlorine in swimming pools can trigger and aggravate some people’s allergy symptoms. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor about other exercise and asthma management options. Some other good exercises for asthmatics, according to the American Council on Exercise, include treadmill running, cycling, walking and outdoor running.

Although some health studies suggest indoor swimming pools might actually increase children’s risk of childhood asthma, MayoClinic.com immunology specialist Matthew Rank, M.D. stresses that there is not enough clinical evidence to warrant keeping children away from indoor pools.

Tips and Precautions

When selecting an indoor pool, look for a well-ventilated facility in which the staff regularly opens the door and windows of the facility. Make sure the pool area is free of mold and dirt. Rinse your body well both before and after your swim session to get rid of potential irritants. Warm up properly before your exercise session and take time to cool down afterward. Exercise in short bursts of activity, then rest when your body tells you to do so.

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author image Erin Carson
A former children's librarian and teacher living in Dallas, Erin Carson loves to share her knowledge of both literature and parenting through her writing. Carson has a master's degree in library science and a bachelor's degree in English literature. As a freelance writer, Carson has published numerous articles on various websites.
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