Exercise and asthma
Having asthma shouldn’t prevent you from playing sports, exercising or taking part in any other physical activity, whether it’s just for fun or more competitively.
Sometimes people with asthma can get symptoms when they exercise, especially in dry or cold air, or without the right preparation. Asthma symptoms after exercise are common but treatable.
What you can do
Getting more active can actually make you feel better.
Choose a physical activity you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity every day or most days.
Consider getting involved in structured exercise as people with asthma who participate in physical training often feel better.
If asthma triggers your symptoms, talk to your doctor so you can find a treatment that works best for you. This could be as simple as taking extra puffs of your reliever before you warm up.
If you get asthma symptoms when you’re active, there are things you can do:
- Get as fit as possible – the fitter you are, the harder you need to work before symptoms start.
- Exercise in a warm and humid place – avoid cold, dry air if possible.
- Avoid exercising where there are high levels of pollens, dust, fumes or pollution.
- Breathe through your nose when you exercise.
- Do a proper warm-up and cool-down.
Keep your blue/grey reliever handy and be prepared. If your asthma flares up, don’t ignore it or hope the symptoms will go away by themselves.
Treating an asthma attack
If your symptoms start:
- Stop what you’re doing
- Follow your asthma action plan. If you don’t have an action plan, take 4 separate puffs of a blue/grey reliever.
- Only return to exercise or activity if your breathing returns to normal
- If the symptoms don’t go away, or if they return while you’re exercising, use your reliever again. Stop doing anymore exercise that day.
If symptoms still don’t go away, follow your asthma action plan – you may need to see your doctor.
If you participate in competitive sports, make sure you and your doctor know which asthma medicines you’re allowed to take. You can check with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority or the World Anti-Doping Authority.