Sport and managing asthma

Hi, I am 43 and after a prolonged chest infection I was prescribed inhalers following a peak flow diary and discussion about life growing up (it sounds as though I have had mild asthma from the get go). Now that I am in the know with asthma (I say that loosely as I'm actually not that experienced) I would like to push my activities and sport, something I have never been able to do but put it down to just being a bit unfit, I didn't twig about asthma (bizarrely). So I have never been able to run, but I would like to. Does anyone have experience of managing asthma whilst taking on more sport? I'm interested in advice, web links or even your own story of managing your asthma and perhaps now run marathons?!

17 Replies

  • I have recently started running using the NHS Couch to 5k program. I was worried about a number of things as an asthmatic - firstly how would my asthma react to my running and also what would happen when it got colder. I found, by trial and error, how much ventolin I need to take before I go out (2 puffs while getting changed and another just before I head out of the door), but everyone is different, and it is about finding what works for you. I also found that if it is cold, if I wear a buff over my mouth and nose (and breath in through my nose and out through my mouth) it helps to regulate my breathing and stop my lungs screaming too much about the cold air (until my face gets too warm, then I remove the buff!).

    I don't run marathons or anything, I haven't even finished the program yet, but I can now run for 28 minutes without stopping and without needing my inhaler during or after which, as someone who has moderate/severe asthma was something I never thought I could do.

    I'm sure there are others with much better stories and advice than this, but it gives you a starting point!

  • That's really good, if I can run for that long I would be really happy. I can only do 60 seconds at the moment and so a marathon is a long way away.

    I have just bought a buff thinking it might help.

  • It certainly helps me as cold air can trigger my asthma.

    Most of the things I have discovered that work, I read from others on the C25k forum on here - everyone is different and it is about finding what works for you.

  • The cold air does me in but equally the warm does. I hadn't seen the 25k forum, I'll have a look.

    House cleaners like Zoflora are a no and I find deodorant sprays limit my breathing.

  • Yes - strong smelling perfumes and deodorants get me too.

    The forum is called Couch to 5k - you start with just running 60 seconds followed by a recovery walk 8 times building to 30 minutes running by the end - I'm nearly there!!

  • While I don't have your ambitions to run, I did struggle with, say, walking up hill, and thought it was just me being unfit. Now I know it was under/uncontrolled asthma. So your not twigging sounds completely natural to me! And that wasn't helpful (ended up in hospital eventually for a few days). I also could do with more fitness, but I aim to be less ambitious.

  • I'm glad I'm not the only one who was left behind on a hill. Good luck.

  • I do a lot of walking, i started slowly and built it up, I was overweight, and warned by my doctor i was heading for diabetics I lost 10kg in 9 months and all tests are coming back ok. Hope this helps

  • That sounds fantastic, that's around a stone and a half isn't it. That's not easy.

  • Yes it is about a stone and a half, and the good thing is i enjoyed it and still keep it up

  • I have a stone to come off but I'm attempting half a pound a week to keep it realistic. If I can run a bit more and get my heart rate up, it will help.

  • Start slow and build it up, then you will want to keep at it

  • Hi I did couch to 5 k n then joined a running group for beginners during the summer which was great - stRted really slowly focussed on posture n breathing - only thing is asthma started bothering me again in late October after a couple of rounds is steroids in sbs my breathing just returned to normal a couple of days before Christmas . So just be prepared for set bscks m don't let them get you down - - above all get out n enjoy n well done you for challenging yourself

  • Hi, just taken up cycling at 59, I keep up with the preventer to try and keep the asthma under control, use the ventolin before setting out and built up the effort gradually. So far so good 😊

  • I find that even using an inhaler I can no longer do vigorous exercise - only steroids permit me to go running without stopping.

  • Hello JGreen42

    I've had asthma since I was 6 years old. Now I'm 69. I've been a distance runner since the age of 14 and I still run now. I wrote a book, "Running with Asthma: An Asthmatic Runner's Memoir." There is a lifetime of experience in my book that may be helpful to you. Everyone is different but there may be some things I've learned that will make it easier for you to run.

    My book is available on Since the publication of my book, I've learned more things about running and asthma. You can read about them on my web site under "Next Chapter." My web site is I'd love to know about your progress with running and asthma. You can email me at

    Yours for better breathing,

    John Terry McConnell

  • I have very bad asthma and when I got back from sport (running 3km) someone spray a ton of deodorant on my face and I was not able to walk talk or pretty much anything.

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