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Asthma and Exercise: One Breath Closer
There are many adults and children who would love a more physically active life, unfortunately, asthma can be very debilitating at times. I have lived all my life with asthma and as a child growing up, I didn’t have the normal play of a child such as cycling, jumping rope, roller skating etc. but very little for me. I lived a sedentary life for more than half of my life, until weight became a problem. Since exercise is such a big part of weight loss, and a balanced life, the question remains, how can you be physically active, while keeping your asthma under control?
Asthma, simply put, is a chronic lung disorder, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Most asthmatics believe that exercise is simply not an option for them and that it does more harm than good, I used to feel that way too, but as a Certified Fitness Trainer who lives with asthma, I know agree more. Now, strength training, jump roping, walking, kickboxing and more, have been a part of my life for more than eight years. Exercising regularly has slowly built up my confidence and strengthened my heart and lungs. However, I am never too far away from my inhaler. The severity of asthma varies from person to person, so you should always consult your doctor and have a thorough evaluation before starting any exercise program.
Every breath you take
Proper breathing is essential for someone suffering from asthma. There are many breathing techniques that improve your heart and lungs. Below are two simple breathing exercises that you can do almost anywhere.
Deep breathing. While standing or lying down, inhale as much oxygen as you can and then exhale gradually. You can do this anywhere, while working out, cooking or driving. It’s just that simple!
Abdominal Breathing. Sit on your back in a comfortable position. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Inhale deeply and slowly and feel the pull at your midsection. Ideally, as you do this, the hand on your belly will rise higher than the hand on your chest. Now, exhale only through your mouth. Then breathe in from your nose and hold it for almost 7 seconds. Breathe out until you finish counting up to 8. As you come close to finishing this, squeeze your abdominal muscles to make sure there is no air left. This is one of the easiest exercises to increase lung capacity.
*Build up your cardiovascular system slowly and start with low intensity aerobic exercises.
– Take short brisk walks around your neighborhood, and every 4-6 weeks increase your pace and speed. Cold air can trigger an asthma attack, so keep an eye on the weather and bring your inhaler. If the outdoors is not for you, take advantage of a treadmill and apply the same rules as if you were walking outside.
– Go swimming, this improves your cardiovascular system, helps you lose weight, and sculpts your upper and lower body muscles.
– Take a Yoga or Pilates class to strengthen your core, tone, and tone your entire body. This will relieve some of your stress, and over time you will adapt to a new breathing pattern. You will start using your abdominal muscles and the lower part of your diaphragm, while relaxing your chest muscles.
– Don’t give up strength training. You can increase muscle mass, have a leaner body, while working up a sweat, all without experiencing a fast heart rate. Children can also start a strength training program, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Children as young as 7 or 8 years old are old enough to learn the correct technique for exercises such as; sit-ups and push-ups, under the strict supervision of a certified and trained professional.
Common foods that are known to trigger an asthma attack and interfere with exercise
- Milk – eggs, soy, ice cream
- Wine and beer
- Spicy foods
Weather items that could make your breathing difficult and trigger an attack
- Cold weather and dry temperatures
- Humid weather
- Hot and humid conditions
- Cold and windy weather
If you suffer from asthma and are looking to become a pro athlete or even a pro athlete, consider this: Jackie Joyner- Kersee Track and Field star was prove you had asthma as a psychologist at UCLA. Joyner-Kersee went on to become a four-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist. Retired running back Jerome Bettis aka “The Bus” for the Pittsburgh Steelers was diagnosed with asthma at the age of 15. Bettis went on to play 13 seasons in the NFL and won a Super Bowl in process.
Importantly! Always stay under the close supervision of a doctor. Find out the knowledge and training support of someone who has worked with people who suffer from asthma. Asthmatics can enjoy a full and active life just like everyone else. The key is to understand the severity of your asthma. Start slowly, and work your way up to the success you want to be.
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