Giving Asthmatics a Sporting Chance

Asthma can cause severe breathing problems, and so it’s easy to understand why parents want to protect their children, and safe guard them from danger.  So many do this by keeping their children from playing sports, in case they exacerbate their condition.

However the truth is; being active is of huge importance to asthma sufferers, as muscles in the lungs become stronger, and therefore work better, alleviating breathing difficulties.

The sporting world even has world-class athletes who suffer from asthma, with Paula Radcliffe (long-distance runner) suffering from Exercise Induced Asthma, and Justine Henin (tennis player) being just a couple of examples.  Justine was diagnosed quite late in life, at the age of 25, and was the top ranked female tennis player at the time, showing how asthma doesn’t have to hold you back from playing sports, but instead might just be the perfect partner to alleviate the side-effects of asthma!

Of course asthma should not be taken lightly, and so it is wise to know which conditions are toughest for asthma sufferers.

Sports such as golf, walking, jogging, hiking, yoga, cricket, and gymnastics are less likely to affect asthma sufferers.  However, cold and dry air environments as with skiing or ice hockey can cause asthmatics to struggle.  With the correct training and medicine, no sports should be off limits for asthmatics.

Here are our tips for controlling your or your child’s asthma when playing sports.

  • Maintain regular intake of asthma medications, and not just when flare-ups occur.
  • Awareness – Instead of sending your child with a note excluding them from sports, inform all teachers, coaches and team-mates that he/she suffers from asthma, and what steps they should take if an asthma attack occurs.
  • During winter, or any particularly cold day, wearing scarves can block the cold and dry air from entering your lungs.
  • Avoid outdoor training on days with a high pollen count.
  • Extensive warm ups and cool downs before and after sporting activities prepare and relax your lungs for any physical exertion.
  • Controlled breathing throughout, trying to maintain breathing through your nose instead of your mouth will alleviate problems, as air will be warmer and more humidified.
  • Constant monitoring – no one knows your body better than you do, and so at various points during exercise, take the time to evaluate your situation.  Is your breathing smooth and deep? Do you feel in control?
  • Ensure that all medication is at hand. Inhalers, sprays etc, should be left in a nearby location, with a coach, or if possible carried on your person.  Medication should be checked often to ensure it isn’t empty, having spares is strongly advised.
  • Having an indoor environment for exercise which is allergen free is ideal.  This is best created with the use of humidifiers or air purifiers, steam cleaners, and allergy sprays.

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