Not controlled asthma- exercise or not? - Asthma UK communi...

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Not controlled asthma- exercise or not?


My asthma is not controlled and I feel more breathless even after a short walk.

I saw a consultant yesterday and he suggested that I should still exercise -  at least 30 min of fast walk a day

I don't  go out much as I fear that it can cause an asthma attack, more time off work etc.. 

But the lungs are probably deconditioning so it's a vicious catch 22

What do you do when you feel breathless after the exercise? Salbutamol and oral prednisone don't help

9 Replies

Hi have you tried breathing exercises?   There are quite a few if you google them.  

I have asthma and mild copd and were taught at PR (Pulmunory Rehabilitation) to only exercise to the point where we were too breathless to sing but not too breathless to talk.   This is called the Borg level 4.  (sometimes the numbers can be different depending on the site you look on, but the principle is the same).   This will be different for everyone.  If you exercise less than this level then you are not getting the full benefits,  and more doesn't mean you get more benefit - it just stays the same and might put you off exercising.  

The optimium level of exercise is your borg level 4 (google it).  x  


Thanks, I will have a look

I asked my consultant a few times about respiratory physios but he seems to be very cynical about them!

Unfortunately I often feel breathless when talking at rest as well, especially when somebody comes round and we talk for over an hour 


Stop talking so much :)   Seriously though I do too and I try and put off friends on the phone who I know want a long talk.  It makes me breathless and tires me out too much.  I tell them to email me instead as my lungs get a lot tireder than my fingers.    x

1 like

Well if you haven't done much exercise then starting with 30 mins of fast walking is bound to cause problems. 

Start small - if your body hasn't done much walking for a while it has to adjust.  Perhaps thinking of it as number of paces to do rather than giving yourself a time limit might be a good idea begin with.  Take your ventolin with you - just in case.  Even if you do only a hundred paces on the first day (so fifty out and fifty back - totalling one hundred), that would be a start.

Some years ago I recall an article which stated that breathing in through the nose (and out through the mouth) was a good idea for asthmatics. I believe it had something to do with the nose acting as more of a filter to any air borne potential triggers than breathing in through the mouth would achieve.  Don't know if that's still current thinking.  I learnt to do this anyway from drama training years ago.  If I remember correctly it had the grand title of 'Intercostal Diaphragmatic breathing method'. 


What does the breathlessness feel like? I ask as I have just been diagnosed with exercise-related vocal chord dysfunction which is where the vocal chords spasm during exercise making breathing difficult and painful. Asthma treatments e.g. steroids won't help - it needs speech therapy treatment to learn to control the vocal chords. For years I thought it was uncontrolled asthma but it was only as I got my actual asthma under control that I noticed this was something different - it was much more in my throat that I was feeling the breathlessness  than in my lungs. 

It may be that yours is just uncontrolled asthma (or even both) but I did just want to mention it in case it was relevant.

In terms of my actual asthma (which is also triggered by exercise), I find that I can keep it under control by warming up very gradually and not doing anything too intense. Asthma and breathlessness prevent you fully breathing out which then limits the amount of air you can breathe in so I particularly focus on fully breathing out each breath. I also find swimming easier than land-based exercise as it's a humid environment and my throat/lungs don't dry out. 



How were you diagnosed- I had a laryngoscopy and they couldn't find anything. What is your breathlessness patern- my main problem is inhaling and not being able to take deep breaths.

How do you focus on fully breathing out- I tried the pursed lips breathing with breathing in on the count of 2 and breathing  out on the count  of 7 , it only helps for a few minutes of so 


Polzovatel, are you on a regular intake of oral steroids?  If so, there is an additional incentive to try to do some walking.  Regular low impact exercise (such as walking) helps to keep your bones strong.  Given the increased risk of osteoporosis from long doses of oral steroids, the stronger your bones are, the more it will help them to resist the impact of such medication.  


Polzovatel, for years i have blamed my own lack of fitness when getting breathless walking briskly up a hill. At times it would be worse, but never better. Yes, I did excercise, but it didn't make any difference. Now I think it has to do with asthma, not lack of fitness. The brisk walk was due to needing to get to work. Still, I can now take it slower (if I have time). You need to find your own way - and listen to what your body is telling you!


I think a lot of people will mention the same in their comments, but what I personally do (and have been doing in my remissions AND in my exacerbations) is to just control my breathing. Currently I don't have an inhaler to stop sudden attacks, I only have my CS inhaler twice a day so I don't have a choice other than to sit and focus on my breathing. Before I ever got to the CS I had a reliever inhaler (ventolin, then salbutamol etc) but it was my choice to try and avoid them - I just focused well on my breathing, rid my mind of anything and took the time to get better. I hope you can set your mind to it because that helps.


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