Asthma UK community forum

Coping with Exercise

I was wondering if anyone had any tips for coping with exercise with asthma?

Last night I tried a fitness class, and even though they said it would all be at your own pace, it was clealy too much for me or at least for my lungs - I was really symptomatic and my peak flow dropped way down, then as punishment my lungs ensured I has a really bad night. :( I'm okay (not great) this morning, but I'm feeling really fed up because I want to be able to do things like this without problems.

I take my salbutamol before and as needed - is there anything else I can try?

12 Replies

Before my recent 'pooey-ness' with my asthma, i used to take ventolin before, during and after exercise and literally take it at the best pace my body could take...and if it was going to be a few hours worth of exercise then i would take ventolin every half hour.

Currently though, swimming is the only form of exercise that i can do that i dont get to out of breath...anything else it causes my lungs to fall outta my bottom!!!



the only class i cope with is aqua as anything else to much still but use gym 3-4 x week and have a programme set up by fitness instruter who specialises in rehab so designed for my chest i also use inhaler immediatly b4 and sometimes during my 1/2 hr programme. advice i was given is start slow and build up gradually as you feel able


Sorry to hear the class didn't go well.

Are there any other classes that you would like to try like aqua aerobics, yoga or Tai Chi? They might be a bit more gentle.

Have you tried doing strength exercises that don't get you too breathless? If you start by doing some exercises at home like squats, lunges or arm weights (e.g. with tins of beans). You should do them slowly with lots of rest into between sets. Then once your muscles are a bit stronger and using oxygen more efficiently you can move onto more cardiovascular stuff. If you are able to build up your fitness slowly you will find that exercise will put less stress on your lungs and you should cope better.

Hope it goes better next time, let us know how you get on.



My asthma trigger is exercise, esp swimming in very cold water, walking up hills of any gradient, running. However, I am about to try Zumba for the first time, which may be a little ambitious, but am going to try on the basis that I have recently changed on to a Seretide preventer and my recovery time has massively improved after an attack. I plan to take my Ventolin before during and after the class, and will of course just stop if my breathing gets bad. Its a no win situation, exercise helps with breathing but also brings on an attack! I have also signed up for a 12 week course on Alexander Technique to see if that will help improve my breathing. Will be checking it all out with my doctor next week before I start anything, but I am also longing to learn to scuba dive as my partner is an instructor. At the moment no club would take me with my history, again need to get the doc to confirm I can do it but I fear he won't agree to that!


More of what other people have said, make sure you take inhaler before, during and after exercise. I started running last year when I decided to do the great north run for asthma uk. I had to fit training around my lungs and chest infections. I started by walking 2 minutes jog 1 minute then walk again for about 15 minutes. I did the half marathon in 2.5 hours so it can be done but its very gradual and slow and let your lungs tell you what to do. I'm back down to running 6-8 miles on a really good week but thats not often at the moment. Fingers crossed your next try your lungs behave better but don't give up.


Hi Ratty. I can't manage any sort of class because exercise always sets me off too, so I sort of sneak up on it. I started by swimming gently for a few minutes, worked up to more than half an hour working hard and kept it at that until I didn't have to drag myself out of the pool and sit puffing for half an hour afterwards.

Then I headed for the gym and tried all the equipment to see what I found least diffiicult and started again with 5 minutes and the lowest level of difficulty and started working my way up. When I was relatively comfortable on one piece of equipment I added another one.

I go to the gym 2-3 times a week, and still swim for half an hour every morning before work. Every time my asthma flares up I stop the gym and when my lungs are a bit happier I go back and start again.

Good luck with it.



Thanks everyone for your suggestions and kind words. :) I've had a really grumpy day both because in my head I'm annoyed at how things went (or didn't go) last night and I want to be able to do more and because my lungs have been playing up today in a kinda reminding me not to have such silly ideas about exercise way.

I do swim fairly regularly, but even that I'm struggling with - scared a few life guards recently!! I find it upsetting because I used to swim a few miles without any problems and I'm struggling with minimal exersion now.

Does anyone know anything about exercise on prescriptions/exercise referrals or anything similar? I know my Mum has something like that because she's very obese and diabetic, but she doesn't use it which really annoys me, because it seems like such a good opportunity - I would love to have the opportunity to have someone who understood my health issues (asthma plus others) and who I felt safe with and who would ensure I was sensible (I have a tendency, as I did last night, to think I can do more than I can).



Im an athlete and despite being fit - my asthma does flair up at times at training. I have also scared a few people in my time! My coach gave me some new ideas on adapting things - I cant run as it sets my lungs off into a strop so he adapted the drills to walking or skipping.

Best thing to do is try something gentle and build it up. Yoga or pilates are quite gentle and then once you feel able to adjust it to a fitness class.

Keep at the exercise though, it makes me feel better once Ive been to training

take it easy xx


Ratty, I know what you mean about scaring life guards when swimming done it myself a few times as a competitive swimmer... had a fun one (many years ago) when doing a life guarding course and supposed to be pretending to drown so other half at the time (also a lifeguard) could rescue me and started an attack for real, which he had not realised until back on the side of the pool...


i have recently joined a chair based exercise class. Everyone in the group is at different levels and some people stay sat down all the way through other people stand for a little then sit for the rest and others manage to stand for the majority. If you ring your local leisure centre and ask about chair based exercise they should be able to help you if not ring your local PCT and ask them although you may need a GP referral.

I find the class challenging some weeks and ok others. You do things like marching while sat down and stretching muscles and doing arm raises etc. i really enjoy going each week and they play lovely relaxing music in the background. I find the most challenging part of the class is actually getting from my car to the room it is held in. Hope you are able to find a class or scheme like it.



Hi Ratty,

My one reliable exercise is walking with my ipod. I have gone from 10 mins very slow in June/July to now 50 mins (sometimes), varying speed and pauses depending on the weather/asthma. I also live in a hilly town so pick and choose flat walking or a hill or two. I find this works for me as I can listen to my body and increase/decrease the challenge to suit. I also find the time of day is important too as I can do more in the cooler evenings. (Mornings are no chance as my lungs are not happy then). I am looking for a reliable pedometer, anyone know of a good one? I have bought a few in the past but they weren't accurate.

Jac xx


heres what I do...

I swim 3 times a week and am doing a graded exercise programme with trainer at gym - paid for by GP surgery. They have set up a personal programme I do 10 mins of walking machine and then 10 reps on some weights / resistance things - it is hard work but I am noticing a difference. I neb 20 mins before hand - have neb with me and have been okay so far - although have had to stop a couple of times but no-one minds and they are really encouraging. I have noticed that I can do a little more now than I could when I started. swimming is the best for me...I just take it at my pace.


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