Did you know: asthma is currently ranked the second most common disease in Singapore; affecting 5% of adults and 20% of children1. Furthermore, the impact of asthma on patients can be detrimental – from missed opportunities, depression and overall lower quality of life.
The good news is: asthma is a highly manageable condition if the right steps are taken. Even though many believe that their condition doesn’t allow them to live a fit and active lifestyle, studies have shown that there are plenty of benefits from regular exercise for asthma patients, including improved asthma control2.
Benefits of exercising for people with asthma
Even though asthma can be triggered by a plethora of factors including exercise, clinical studies have shown that when managed well, exercising can have the following benefits3,4:
- Improve lung function
- Promote blood flow and circulation in the lungs and body
- Improve endurance and stamina
- Improve immune system function
- Decrease airway inflammation
- Weight loss
- Improve overall sense of well-being
A 2015 study in the journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research showed that those who engaged in the highest amounts of physical activity were 2.5 times better at controlling their asthma symptoms than those who didn’t5. Also, a recent study done in the UK suggested that people who were taught and practiced breathing exercises were effective in managing their symptoms6.
If the release of happy hormones isn’t enough to overcome your fear of starting an exercise routine, here are some tips to help you.
Tips to prepare for your exercise session
We all have to start somewhere – whatever your preferred exercise activity is, begin by setting up a clear plan. Whether it is by getting your family members on board to join you and keep you accountable, or keeping track of your progress using a mobile app, here are some important recommendations for you before you start your session:
- Make sure you follow the COVID-19 advisory in your area.
- Bring along your reliever inhaler and make sure it is always within easy access.
- Make sure you are properly dressed to exercise and stay well-hydrated throughout the session.
- Ensure that your friends or family members know where you are going and for how long.
- Bring along your mobile phone and know who to call in case of an asthma attack.
- Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures.
- Conduct proper 10-minute warm-ups and cool-downs before and after your workout.
- Be aware of your exercise-induced triggers and actively avoid them.
- Keep track of your breathing and breathe in through your nose as much as possible; this will help moisten the air that enters the airways.
Learn to pace yourself and utilise asthma self-management techniques when you notice any symptoms: they can occur during vigorous activity and usually start five to 10 minutes after stopping the activity and can even return hours later.
For absolute beginners, start with less vigorous activities like swimming, cycling or jogging. Should you start to experience signs of an asthma attack including wheezing, coughing or feeling a tightness in your chest, stop exercising immediately and do not push through.