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What exercises can an asthmatic do?

Q: What sort of exercises can an Asthmatic patient do?

A:Many people diagnosed with asthma don't feel like exercising or are afraid to, because they think they might trigger an attack. Many Olympic athletes have been asthmatics so there is no reason to stop exercising. If you have never exercised and don't know what types of activity you enjoy, try a variety of activities until you find one or more that you enjoy. If you do not enjoy it, you will not stick with it. Exercise is good for most people, with or without asthma: it strengthens the heart and body muscles, relieves stress and improves a sense of well-being. A benefit of regular exercise for asthmatics is that it allows them to make a daily assessment of their lung capacity. When their condition is under control, people with asthma are able to participate in most sports. Activities such as swimming, gymnastics and fitness programmes are good exercises for asthmatic adults and children because they allow them to participate at their own levels. People with asthma may need to take rest breaks while they exercise. It is also very important for asthmatics to use medication before exercise to prevent asthma symptoms or an attack. Moderate intensity activities like swimming, walking, biking or low impact aerobics may be good to start with. You need to decide if you want to exercise alone or in a group. A group or a partner may be good to help keep you motivated and interested, and may also provide a safety factor not available when exercising alone. You will need to select activities which can be done at sites convenient for you, but you will also need to be aware of the environment. Indoor activity works well for some asthmatics, while others may do well outdoors most of the time. The key is to select an environment that will help you avoid triggering asthma. Many people with asthma find that aquatic activities are good, because of the moist environment. A very gradual, aerobic warm-up is essential. The warm-up helps the airways adjust to the increased demand, rather than having to instantly respond to an increased need. If you need or want to exercise in the cold weather, wearing a mask may help keep the cold air from irritating the airways. Wearing a cotton or wool scarf without a mask may cause the inhalation of fibers which may, in turn, cause further problems. Short bursts of activity, followed by short rest periods, are sometimes better than a long period of heavy exertion. Pollen counts are usually higher in the early morning, while smog is typically a problem later in the day. You will need to decide which causes you a greater risk, and you'll need to decide if you are a morning exerciser or an evening exerciser! Work into your program gradually; don't push too hard, too fast - or you increase your risk of triggering asthma symptoms, as well as having muscle soreness or injuries. Be flexible with your schedule. Don't exercise if you are having a flare-up -- you will benefit more by taking care of yourself and your symptoms, than making yourself exercise. Judge the intensity of your exercise by using the talk test - if you can carry on a conversation while exercising, then you are not exercising too hard. Slow down if you feel dizzy or faint. If you have to stop exercising suddenly, find a place to sit or recline in a comfortable position until your breathing has returned to normal.

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