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Coughing During Running Exercises

by
author image Meredith Berg
Meredith Berg received her B.F.A. in directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Now living in Los Angeles, she works as a film and television writer, comic-book editor and director of plays and films. In addition, she loves tackling paleo recipes, workout routines and DIY projects.
Coughing During Running Exercises
A woman is jogging on a running path. Photo Credit Samo Trebizan/iStock/Getty Images

Coughing fits can curtail a rigorous running workout, but if you discover the cause of your cough, you may be able to nip it in the bud before your next run. There are multiple factors involved in the unpleasantness of coughing during -- or after -- exercise. Narrow down the culprits and you will be able to arm yourself against the problem.

The Easy Answer

Running speeds up breathing, pushing your body past its comfort zone. Normally, your air passages have plenty of time to moisten and warm the air you take in before it reaches your lungs. When you run, the speed at which you breathe makes this difficult, and leads to drier, colder air reaching your lungs. Dry, cold air can irritate your lungs and cause coughing. Air conditioning can leeches moisture from the air, so try moving your workout outside if coughing is an issue.

Those Darn Allergies

If your cough only rears its ugly head seasonally, then you may have allergy-induced asthma. You can avoid outdoor exercise during trigger seasons, move your exercise routine to an indoor gym instead of outside or take an allergy medication before running to reduce your reaction. There are many over-the-counter drugs that counteract pesky allergies. If your condition is severe, you should carry an emergency inhaler with you when you run. See a doctor for a professional recommendation on which medication to choose.

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Exercise-Induced Asthma

If you're one of the lucky ones who do not have outdoor allergies, coughing fits may also be the result of exercise-induced asthma. This is also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. The wheezing, tightness in the chest and coughing during exercise all appear to be asthma, but can occur to someone who otherwise is not an asthma sufferer. Cold air, high pollen counts and heavy mouth-breathing can trigger these symptoms. Luckily, there are ways to defend yourself from this annoyance. Avoid running outdoors when air pollution or pollen counts are high, and discuss options for inhalers or dietary supplements with your doctor.

Attack That Asthma

Having asthma is not the end of your running world. Avoid triggers, and see a doctor to determine if you should have an inhaler with you when you run. Recent studies have shown that adding omega 3 supplements into your diet can improve lung function and reduce the danger of exercise-induced asthma. A study performed at Indiana University in 2013 found that taking an omega-3 supplement rich in green mussels reduced airway inflammation and improved lung function by as much as a 59 percent.

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