Exercise recommendations?

Hello, I'm new to the forum and I'm so glad to find you!

I have maybe four bouts of asthma a year, each time I'm upping my seretide and taking pred, co-amoxiclav antibiotics and lots of salbutamol! My main triggers are colds which turn into chest infections then asthma. My asthma is not triggered by exercise. In between asthma bouts I'd like to start taking some exercise that is specifically aimed at reducing quantity of bouts in the long run even possibly reducing preventative meds (with advice from doc of course). Not sure if this is possible but worth a try! Most web pages seem to recommend any sort of exercise as beneficial but I'm not sure what to plump for and what I should be aiming for? E.g is it improved lung capacity and if so which is the best possible exercise to attain that? I appreciate that many exercises will help generally but just wondering what your thoughts were on which one could be targeted to get the best outcome? Any thoughts, experiences or ideas greatly appreciated. :) Eepers

12 Replies

  • As an asthmatic mainly affected by exercise, things may be different for me, but I suggest you ask your doctor or asthma nurse about sending you on a Pulmonary Rehab course. I've been on two, and on the list for a third and found it very useful. The exercises are very simple and aimed at getting more oxygen and making you stronger. I've been in hospital a lot this year and sometimes the exercises I learned at PR have been invaluable at keeping me mobile. Exercise is incredibly important for asthmatics and any exercise at all is good.

  • Swimming is good because you can easily work at your pace and it is helping strengthen your lungs at the same time. Plus some Asthmatics find the moist air helps, though might not feel it at first.

  • Hi Eepers, I don't know specifically about lung capacity but there are a variety of devices (breathing trainers) for strengthening respiratory muscles, such as the Powerbreathe thingies. I tend to rely on walking but any exercise being good, one still becomes limited if the exercise isn't progressive. It might be worth considering adding in some general resistance exercises, such as weights or resistance bands a few weeks on then a few weeks off and not too much. Best to find ones you enjoy/get satisfaction in completing because the routines you keep out-do those abandoned! Get enough in-between rest and beware burnout!!( I guess that's more general advice though). Oh, and most importantly of all of course: avoid charlatan priests! (even out of curiosity!)

  • Thank you so much, these are great suggestions and I've just been looking into them, I had never heard of powerbreathe, or pulmonary rehab courses and though swimming has often been mentioned as a good asthma exercise I didn't know about the moist air aspect, thank you! :)

  • Even though your asthma is not triggered by exercise, it may be by doing it in cold air. In the winter you are better off at home (if you have the self discipline!) or in the gym. Once the outside air is below about 10 or 12 degrees it can make you cough and then you might start to wheeze. On the other hand there is recent research to suggest that very cold water swimming might help, but you'd have to do that with someone who understands it and its hazards.

  • Great thank you, that's a good tip, whatever I do I will stick to at home or in the gym. Interested as well to read your comments about cold water swimming, I recently saw a programme where it was used for depression with benefits.

    I did start doing some resistance exercises (as recommended also in this thread) at home, and made it to week 6 before being interrupted by a bout of asthma (triggered by a virus). Once my body had got over the initial shock of starting the resistance training, the exercises made me feel better in my body, stronger, and I lost a bit of the weight I've been gaining with repeated steroid use. In the back of my mind I was worrying about whether cardio vascular exercise would stand me in better stead with my asthma, or yoga. I can see that they could all help but perhaps in different ways and felt confused about what's best. But I appreciate that it's important to do something you enjoy too because it will combat the 'giving up' factor. :)

  • Any aerobic exercise is good for your cardiovascular system. Cycling, rowing, running etc. But these all depend on whether you have any other physical limitations (joint issues, cramps, allergy induced asthma etc etc). The trick is to try all the usual ones gently and you'll find that you naturally gravitate to one that your body is more suited to.

  • I'm an exercise induced asthmatic and I find ballet works well for me. For a full body work out there are few forms of exercise which are as good. It is also mentally challenging, improves co-ordination, and gives you short and manageable bursts of aerobic exercise. Thoroughly recommended if you can find a good adult ballet class in your area.

  • Thanks for the tip MaggieHP, that's something I haven't considered before, sounds like ballet has a lot going for it. :)

  • Dear Eepers,

    I've spent my life dealing with your questions.

    First question, what is the best exercise to improve lung capacity? Swimming in warm water

    Second question, can exercise improve asthma? In my case it did.

    Third question, can lung capacity be improved? Yes. I my case there has been a small but significant improvement. I still have asthma but I breathe more efficiently now.

    Here is a general rule. Too little exercise can make asthma worse and too much exercise can make asthma worse.

    I have been a distance runner on and off since I was 14. I am now 69. I love to run. I incorporate swimming into my workouts in the summer but I run three times a week year round. On days that I don't run I do Tai Chi, "The Peaceful Warrior Workout," (http://PeacefulWarrior.com), and yoga, "Sun Salutations" (lifespa.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/yoga-sun-salutations.pdf). I also throw in some pushups.

    All the exercises I do on days when I don't run emphasize deep breathing through the nose.

    Generally, breathing through the nose is better than mouth breathing when doing any exercise. It may be hard to nose breathe while exercising. This something you can build up to slowly, maybe starting with nose breathing while walking or sitting.

    These deep breathing exercises changed my life. I was a competitive distance runner as a teenager and in my 30s. After that my asthma was too severe to run. At about 59 years old I started doing the Peaceful Warrior Workout. This deep breathing exercise changed my life. My congestion diminished and I could run again for distance.

    I am just scratching the surface here. If you want to know more, read my book, "Running with Asthma: An Asthmatic Runner's Memoir." It is available on amazon.com

    One last word, find a medical doctor you can talk to and develop and exercise plan with that doctor.

    My email address is runnerwithasthma@gmail.com and my website is runnerswithasthma.com. Feel free to get in touch. I'm interested in your progress.

    John Terry McConnell

  • Thank you so much John for taking the trouble to submit this, really interesting and very helpful. My asthma is too bad at the moment to do any exercise but I look forward to the time when I can pick up on some of your points. Peaceful Warrier Workout sounds like an excellent place to start. So pleased that you are in a place where you can enjoy running again. Thank you again!!

  • Hello Eepers,

    It was great to hear form you. Please keep in touch and tell me how your asthma is. Feel free to email me at runnerwithasthma@gmail.com.

    Yours, John Terry McConnell

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