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What kind of exercise?

Hi all,

I am wondering what kind of exercise everybody gets up to, and which ones you have found to be good for asthma. After a few years of trying to jog, seemingly doing all the right things, like taking my inhaler before, warming up, and building up slowly, I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's just not happening for me. I have had some pretty substantial attacks when trying to run, some coming when I am apparently stable, all other things considered.

I enjoy highland dancing so much, and do it when I can, which lately has been most of the time :) I know that swimming is supposed to be great for asthmatics, but I'm just not into it unless it's in a lake during the summer!

I know that ultimately, exercise is good for asthma and your general health, so I am really wanting to find something that works for me. I could use a stress buster right now. So...any ideas? What do you all enjoy?

Thanks, Brynne

27 Replies

Hi Brynne,

I found that Tai Chi offered the best kind of exercise. You don't move from the spot hardly, and focus almost entirely on your breathing and the exercise trigger dosn't even figure! I took this up in my early twenties after a pneumothorax (in my case a partially collapsed left lung) at the age of 19. As I was recovering any slight coughing or wheezing would bring pains to my left side, so I couldn't do much excercise for a few months. The following year by chance I came across a book full of Tai Chi excercises which I followed religiously. They really helped, and so I eventually enrolled for proper tuition.

What would generally happen was that if I did the Tai Chi excercises for long enough, say 30 mins - 1 hour, I would then fancy going out for a long walk, and as time went by this habit turned into a jog!!!

The other excerise is the rowing machine in the gym, which I have mentioned before....If you treat it more as a breathing exercise, breathing out as you pull and in as you slack back you can build up your aerobic capabilities, but the trick is start with ease. It helped me...



Very informative thread.


Hi Brynne,

Glad to see you like Highland Dancing. I teach Salsa (plus dance socially myself a few times a week) I find its not too bad on my chest most of the time. I also enjoy mountain walking- generally in the summer when it's less cold and swimming.

Personally jogging is not my thing. Just a thought but if you find the cold weather triggers your asthma maybe try running on a treadmill? or waiting until the summer.

Good luck finding something that suits you,



If I ever feel like exercising, I lie down in a dark room until the feeling has passed.





After recommendation from my consultant and his team I ahve started yoga. I had my first session yesterday and didnt realise how difficult it was- i dont mean breathing wise i mean getting into all sorts of positions and it was a beginner class. my consultant reconned it would be good as it teaches you how to control your breathing better and gets you really toned at the same time. It was good fun.

Hope you find something you are able to do



Hi Brynne

I have been doing Pilates and Yoga since December and, because they both concentrate on breathing properly, have helped wonderfully. I have even forgiven the Yoga instructor for once (and once only) lighting incense at the beginning of the session - I would not recommend that. Yoga with its relaxation techniques is a wonderful stress buster. I describe it as rest hard, work hard, rest hard again exercise. I just avoid those exercises that constrict my neck, but there are not many of them.

Like Twizzle, I also get a lot out of the rowing machine in the gym, but it took me 2 or 3 sessions to bring my speed down to something that gave me enough time to breathe. I got the technique, but forgot the essentials and went off so enthusiastically fast that I did not have time to breathe. Having slowed down to a proper speed, I now find it is a real pleasure.

The other bit I have learned the hard way recently is to not do any of these in the morning. Nothing now until midday, in order to give PF a chance to get past its usual early morning low.



Rowing seems an interesting exercise. I have been doing it for a while and feel more refreshed and active all day long. Thanks for the recommendation. 10machines.com/best-rowing-...


I used to be a competitive swimmer and i do find providing that i neb before i can do a little when im well. Un fortunately my local pool wont let me come without another adult once they saw me nebbing post swim (i was struggling a little but nothing bad for me )so my chances have reduced due to childcare issues also with some pools how much chlorine can be an issue to consider..

A friend suggest aqua areobics as u can do as little or as much as u can manage and she is a teacher of it so may try when more stable.

I recently read an article about tai chi and asthma so am looking into that as well.

Good luck in finding something that suits you


Thanks so much for the replies, all very good ideas!

I never thought about doing the rowing machine but I have access to a full gym at uni so I just might try it. Maybe once I am done with this course of pred (Friday!) and I get a little more stable. You see, going out for a run along the canal was what set this whole blip off, and it has had a prolonged effect, so I'm looking for some exercise that is more compatible with my lungs.

And I think that I will definitely go back to yoga once I get back home, only a month to go now.

My mom's been trying to me to go to an aqua aerobics class with her for years now. Maybe I'll finally give in to her! Take care all,



ho hum, I'm struggling with the exercise too. got an exercise bike but keep dropping my pf dramatically when I go on it, and seeing as it comes up with puffer/neb I was plodding merrily on, watching wombles and cycling away. Then my friend foudn out how bad I was getting and I'm banned. I spose dropping PF to a third of what is was even for a wee while is silly, but I am getting so frustrated at not being able to do anything much despite slow warm up and puffer before etc. And can't do all the fun out doors things I used to. So losing motivation rapidly. I think I will just stay being a hippo.



Hi Brynne

i thought i would reply to your email about excercise. I love sport particularly kayaking in sunny weather around our shores. I have many good friends who i kayak with and who understand that my asthma can be difficult at times and know how to help me. The cold weather is tricky but i have found that coverng my mouth and nose with a cosy scarf really makes the difference although some of the newcomers to the club think i resemble some kind of undercover agent!

I find it very difficult excercising in cold air but love being outside so definetly kayaking is for me. Any other avid kayakers out there?

good luck Brynne and i hope you find a sport that suits you.


Hey Brynne..

Kayaking is one of my favourite forms of exercise... but sadly has been over 6 months since I last was out of hospital long enough. Will be interested to see what I am able to work back up to. Before this bad patch - even whitewater kayaking didn't cause me a problem (although with my lungs being so tetchy I usually had my trusty omron in a waterproof bag in the back of my kayak just in case!) Otherwise previously, rowing machines, swimming, cycling and climbing are my activities of choice. Yoga and PIlates also good - and will probably be my first port of call along with swimming once my PICC line comes out!

BTW Brynne - thanks for your PM - will reply to it soon, and if there's any thing you've got questions about specifically, let me know by PM..




I like to swim because I used to be a competitive swimmer. I'm not anymore, but I still swim a lot. My school built a new sports centre recently and its really good because the swimming pool doesn't have chlorine in it! I don't know what they've put in instead. The chlorine never used to stop me swimming but I have to use my inhaler much less now so its really good for me. I'm not really a very excercisy person (me and running do not go together) but I'm really enjoying being able to swim with my friends.

You've all come up with some really good ideas so I might try some!

Hope you are all well,



What kind of exercise?


Personally I love cycling. You can put in as much effort as you feel able. My asthma has a mind of its own, so if I feel up to it then I can cope with a long cycle ride otherwise I'll just cycle for about half a mile. Either way it makes me feel great. I have set myself a goal for the summer - being able to cycle the 30 mile round trip to work, but I feel that I might just manage it by September!

I also enjoy cross country skiing - hard work but fantastic exercise - but I can't get a prescription to fly to Norway weekly to undertake this exercise!. I have had nordic walking recommended to me, so I will be looking into that soon.

Can't jog - it just dosen't agree with me and I get frustrated as I can't swin fast anymore. This is not just due to the asthma, I have a severe leg injury too!

Also playing the oboe is excellent exercise for the lungs!

Best wishes



Here's a simple excercise that came from my Tai Chi times. I am not sure if it's strickly Tai Chi but it was a jolly good warm up and great help with breathing!

Stand up straight, with chest slighly proud, shoulders back etc. Exale.

Slowly breathe in deeply to the count of 4.

Hold in to the count of 4.

Breathe out slowly to the count of 4.

Hold out to the count of 4 (the tricky bit!)

Repeat 8 times.

Please note these are slow counts! If 4 counts is too much start with 3 and progress to 4.

Sounds easy but the longer you do it the harder it is to maintain the counts.

It helps to slightly expand the lungs.

Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

I took this a stage further and have often done it on long walks using my stride as the counter, finding very useful for blowing out a few cobwebs!

Tai Chi is full of exercises like this most of which are combined with simple movements, some of which I still do but this warm up one was always my favourite!



What kind of exercise?

I have found cycling a good exercise but indoor not out because if there is a breeze i can't breath although in the summer i take the bike into the garden. I also use the gym ball good for muscle toning especially if you use a few hand weights lots of places on the net for the excercises you can do and there are loads. (You can do this as slow as needed.) I have been thinking of Tia Chi but not got round to it yet even bought a dvd still not opened but will soon.


I've also found the rowing machine to be good exercise for me without triggering me too much, in part because it's easy to take breaks and pace yourself on. I've also found cycling *on flat routes!* not too bad and it feels quite good after.

Oddly I don't get on with swimming and find it tends to trigger me.



I'm snookered. Actually, maybe I could do that - is it exercise?

If I can't do the exercise bike I have no more ideas. I don't have room for a rowing machine and I am NOT going to the gym! Cant swim - chlorine. Can swim in the sea but the north sea is a little chilly at this time of year. running -nope.

Maybe just need to wait till summer, hope there ain't too much pollen, and get back on the trampoline.

not a tai chi/yoga person - can't take it seriously Im afraid!



i LOVE cycling, even tho mummy has locked my bike in the shed and wont let me have it since i got costified. miss it horribly.

Gym balls are fab things, i owe my flat tummy to mine.

my work out:

Toning with gym ball

3 times a day

Trunk extension

What it's for: Lower back

How to do it: Get down on your knees and drape your upper body over the top of the ball,

with your arms lightly hugging the back of the ball or with your hands behind your head.

Lift your chest off the ball until your spine is straight or slightly extended. Hold for

5 seconds.

Return to starting position.

Do this 5 times

Core crunchers

What it's for: Abs and core muscles

How to do it: Get on your knees, bend at the waist and rest your elbows on the ball.

Squeezing your abs, roll the ball forward until your upper body and thighs form a straight

line. Roll back to starting position.

Do this 20 times

Basic crunches

What it's for: Abs

How to do it: With your feet flat on the floor, place your lower back on the ball, and your

upper body and thighs parallel to the floor. Do crunches as usual, lifting only your shoulders

and upper back off the ball, using your abs.

Do this 20 times

Abdominal rolls

What it's for: Abs

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place the

ball on your thighs, right near your knees, and your hands on top of ball. Lift your shoulder blades

off the floor, rolling the ball to the top of your knees, pause, then go back to the starting position.

Do this 10 times


but if you need your inhaler half way through, stop, take your meds and wait until you feel better, and most of all, TAKE IT AT YOUR OWN PACE!!



wooohoo, some great ideas on here!! I've decided that I am going to go and try the rowing machine at uni. I've got some friends who are actual rowers who would be able to help me out with that. Sometime next week, me thinks...

Also, I will be getting back home to my bike in only 3 weeks! Will give that a go when I get there.



hi Brynne, the rowing machine is a great idea as long as you do it at a low intensity - so just be a little careful getting your rowing friends to help you! Rowing at the sort of intensity they will probably consider ""light"" will be much more aerobically stressful than running at a steady pace, so just go along at a genuinely ""light"" pressure and you'll be fine! It is brilliant exercise and the thing about the rowing machine is you can take it as easy as you like. Rowing on water is up there with Nordic skiing as one of the most taxing sports aerobically (and thus famous for inducing asthma .....) but only if done at the sort of crazy intensities that are involved in competition.

Hope you really enjoy it,



Well I've yet to brave the rowing machine like I said I would, but I have found something which seemed work really well for me.

Yesterday I tried an Ashtanga yoga class. The class was very intense, so I got a very good workout, which is what I was looking for. But despite all that, there was nothing about it to bring on any asthma symptoms. There were no twisting postures, which tend to set me off a little bit.

So there you go, I knew going back to yoga would do good things for me! They have classes at 6:30 am on weekdays, I may go if I can get myself out of bed!



Well I am a PE teacher so have to force myself into allsorts! Personally I find swimming a good lung de fuzzer and I play hockey. My main interests are riding though. I compete my pony in mounted games and dressage - this is not a cop out it is actually hard work leaping off a pony when it is cantering to pass a baton!


Might have to try Ashtanga - the idea of no twisting sounds great, especially when I have an instructor that thinks I should be able to twist more and does the job for me! Ouch.

Tried something interesting on the rowing machine yesterday. Wore a heart monitor this time and started with a pace boat to follow, but, all the way through, had to keep heart rate below 130, which it crept near as I got further and further in to the exercise. Took PF before and immeditely after - started at 530 (really good at the mpment) and, as I finished, managed a magnificent 600. Not only was I elated at PF, but felt like I had worked hard, but was neither wobbly nor breathless. I even managed to go on to do other core exercises.



...that's great news Alan re the rowing!

I wonder if we can draw a conclusion from this that exercise that demands some form of aerobism, but that can be kept reasonably gentle - perhaps with heart rate thresholds in mind, but certainly under the biting point of the exercise trigger, and maintained for a long enough time, say, at least 15 minutes, will help.

My own pesonal best for PF (but not at the dizzying heights of Alan's!) came after a day in Southend-On-Sea where on a very nice clear day, I walked the full length of the pier and back doing my own breathing exercises. Walks have often been useful for me, but I avoid brisk starts as this can engage the exercise trigger and wreck all hope of a pleasant work-out. Some atheletes do however work through this trigger (as it easies off - with a few tricks) but I prefer not to come near it. I prefer a slow but sure and gradually increasing approach with no hint of breathing trouble these days... and I have found that if you can keep the excerise trigger at bay and be patient greater capacity to do more comes over time.



Yay Alan! good for you!


Very informative thread.


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