While pushing your body to exercise harder may get you more out of your workout, it can be dangerous when you have breathing issues. Exercise-induced asthma is a condition where asthma attacks arise only when exercising. When you work out your body needs more oxygenated blood to pump to your hardworking muscles. This means your lungs need to work harder to provide that oxygen. If you ever find yourself pushing your body so hard that you have trouble catching your breath, quickly go into action to slow your breath to ward off a full-blown asthma attack.
If you've been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, never exercise without your rescue inhaler close at hand. When you suffer an attack, the walls of your airways tighten, making it difficult to get air into your lungs. The medicines in your inhaler -- corticosteroids -- work to relieve the swelling in your bronchial airways so it's easier for you to catch your breath. Rescue inhalers work so quickly that you should be able to catch your breath almost immediately, preventing a serious attack or asphyxiation.
If you're pushing your body too hard and find that your breathing has become labored and ragged, it's time to slow down. Some may make the mistake of stopping altogether, which should be avoided, if possible. Stopping strenuous exercises suddenly can result in the pooling of blood in your extremities, which can then cause dizziness and even fainting. If you're having trouble catching your breath, gradually decrease your rate of exercise over a period of two to five minutes before stopping and resting.
Warm, Moist Air
You may find it difficult to catch your breath while exercising in the winter. This is because winter air is generally colder and drier than summer air. If you exercise with your mouth open, which is common when trying to fill your lungs with oxygen, you pull that dry winter air into your lungs, where it can irritate your already swollen airways. In order to catch your breath, head inside where the air is warm and moist. If cold weather is a common problem, exercise at an indoor gym or track to keep your airways unrestricted.
If losing your breath while exercising is a common occurrence for you, schedule an appointment with your health care provider. Since the inability to breathe properly is often the sign of exercise-induced asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other bronchial conditions, you should be diagnosed and given a rescue inhaler. Your doctor can also prescribe a daily asthma medication if you plan to exercise on a daily basis. While the medication won't replace a rescue inhaler, it can help keep your airways open for better comfort and oxygen intake.
- Duke Health: Catch Your Breath
- The Biggest Loser Fitness Program: Maggie Greenwood-Robinson et al.