The five best types of exercise for asthma sufferers

May 2, 2019

Love a good sweat? If you’re one of about 20 million Americans with asthma, this may not be a problem. But for some, vigorous activity like running or playing team sports such as basketball, can cause the airways to become inflamed, narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Fortunately for sufferers, having asthma, even exercise- induced asthma, doesn’t have to keep you from training dirty. According to research, the trick is to control symptoms with meds (prescribed, of course) in addition to selecting activity that focuses on a leisurely pace as well as simple breathing techniques.

While treatments have varied over the years, everything from herbal remedies to relocation to dryer climates, here’s the latest in what’s good in exercise for asthma sufferers.


We’re not talking mountain biking. Rapid in-and-out breathing linked to cycling up steep hills or around bends can dry out airways, potentially exacerbating your asthma. However, one study found that even though cyclists and mountain bikers were more likely to have asthma than other Summer Olympians, they were still able to compete – when maintaining a leisurely pace.

Pay close attention to the weather, as extreme temperatures as well as pollen levels can prove dangerous for sufferers. The good news? Most gyms are equipped with stationary bikes; or even offer cycling clinics, also decent options to work in a good sweat.


This medium level intensity sport will keep you cool and allows you to set your own pace. Your heart will also get a great workout. That’s because it’s gentle on your joints and muscles. Experts advise doing two-and-a-half hours of swimming a week to meet cardio requirements.


Per a recent study, researchers found that adults who took a brisk walk three times a week — half an hour at a time with five minutes of warm-up and five minutes of cool-down — for 12 weeks improved asthma control and fitness levels without triggering an attack of the common respiratory disease.

Weight training

Not only is weight training a great way to build strength, improve muscle tone, and shed unsightly pounds. But it’s also a simple way to implement exercise into your daily routine. Experts suggest beginning with 3 to 5 pound dumbbells to work the upper body and lower body – focusing on exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges.

Cool down with a 10-to 30-minute walk. This allows the temperature and possible restriction changes which occur in the lungs to gradually reduce, decreeing the risk of an exercise-induced asthma attack.


One preliminary study of 24 volunteer asthmatic patients found that individuals who practiced Indian yoga (in groups) daily for 50 minutes, while supervised, resulted in a decreased number of day and night attacks and use of anti-asthmatic drugs. Findings also showed significant improvement in the peak expiratory flow rate – aka a simple measurement of how quickly you can blow air out of your lungs. However, further research is recommended.

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