Coughing After Exercising

A really tough workout can leave you breathing hard, but you shouldn't be coughing or struggling to breathe after exercise. Coughing after exercising can be caused by a number of factors, from exercising too strenuously to a health condition. If you find that you can't exercise without a coughing fit, or if you have any trouble breathing, check in with your doctor for an exam and diagnosis and tips to make exercising easier.

A woman with asthma is holding her inhaler. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Lightwavemedia/Getty Images)

Cold-Weather Workouts

If you're shoveling snow, raking leaves on a chilly day or heading out for a winter run, you're sucking some pretty icy air into your lungs. That cold, dry air is thought to be one reason why coughing after exercise and exercise-induced asthma occur, according to KidsHealth. The cold air makes airways narrow, which means that less air can get through, making breathing difficult.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-induced asthma is a major reason why people cough after exercise. Exercise-induced asthma occurs in people who have asthma. Other symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include difficulty breathing after exercise, wheezing, chest pain and tightness in the chest. KidsHealth notes that coughing and other symptoms can last for a few minutes or as long as several hours after exercise.

Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction

Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or EIB, cause the same types of symptoms as exercise-induced asthma, but in people who don't have asthma. The airways become narrower as you exercise, and cause asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can be caused by exercising in dry, cold air, or when pollutants in the air or outdoor allergens are high. Having a viral respiratory infection can also cause EIB.

Other Factors

Being sick with a respiratory infection caused by a virus can cause coughing and trouble breathing after a workout, as can having problems with the vocal chords or suffering from allergies. You may also cough or have trouble breathing after exercise if you're in poor physical shape and have exercised beyond your physical capabilities.

Easing Coughing

Treating any underlying medical problem, such as asthma, a respiratory infection or allergies, can help manage coughing and other symptoms after exercise. You can also try sticking to exercising in warm, humid weather, or try swimming for your workout. Avoid exercises that require long periods of physical activity, such as basketball or running, and try playing basketball, biking or hiking instead.

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