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How to Run With Asthma

By Katie Duzan

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the lungs. Asthma causes attacks of wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008, 7.8 percent of the American population reportedly were asthmatics. While some people with asthma avoid exercise, most asthmatics can exercise without problems if their condition is well-controlled. Even though the American Council on Exercise reports running as the top exercise likely to cause an asthma attack, there are many runners who are also asthmatics, including Olympian Jackie-Joyner Kersee.

See your doctor and make sure your asthma plan is working before you start running. Your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan to control your asthma symptoms. He can also perform a physical to ensure that your body and lungs can handle the high intensity of running.

Avoid triggers. Triggers include allergens as well as temperatures. If you know the allergen counts are high for your allergies, avoid running outside that day. Cold temperatures are also triggers for asthma attacks, because the body has a hard time heating up the air. Try to run later in the day or indoors on days the temperatures are extremely cold.

Carry your fast-acting inhaler with you at all times. Do not go on a run without your emergency inhaler. If you don't have pockets, wear a belt or a pouch that allows you to carry your inhaler. If you run into problems, your emergency inhaler can save your life.

Start out slowly. You have to warm up properly to give your airways time to adjust to the demands of a cardiovascular workout. Starting suddenly will shock your lungs and can lead to an asthma attack.

Cool down properly. Like the warm-up, the cool-down serves as a transition from one activity level to another. Stopping suddenly can cause an asthma attack from the sudden decrease of demand on your lungs.

Warnings

See your doctor if you are having problems with your current plan in controlling your symptoms in order to make adjustments and get it under control. If you start to wheeze, cough or have problems breathing, force yourself to take a break and use your emergency inhaler.

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