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Returning to Exercise.. tips?!

Hi

Bit of background: I was diagnosed with asthma in November as I started having issues with exercise from late August / September onwards. I stopped my classes and eventually cancelled gym membership whilst in the process of being diagnosed. The last time I exercised I went for a light 20 minute run, and afterwards I wheezed for about an hour and a half, and my peak flow dropped from 550-570 to 320. My doctor amended my medication, introducing montekulast which is meant to be good for exercise induced symptoms and said warm up properly (vague?) I haven’t done any exercise since and for my sanity and health I would to build myself back up. Do people do classes, any advice on cardio? What works for those with exercise induced symptoms? Any tips? If medication is working, should I have any issues?

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The form of exercise I do is classical ballet (minus pointe work). I’m an exercise induced asthmatic and ballet is ideal for me due to the stop start nature of it. It provides both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, gives you a wonderful physical (not to mention mental) workout, and is done to music - fabulous. Adult ballet classes can be found in many towns and cities around the UK. Recommended:-).

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I used to attend a dance class once a week and it used to really lift my spirits for the week. How often do you rest inbetween songs?

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Depends on the class. Where I go typically an hour long class will start with twenty minutes or so of exercises at the barre followed by port de bras (exercises for the use of arms done in the centre of the room). Some classes will then do a couple of exercises similar to those done at the barre (but nothing to help with balance this time -it’s great for core strength, weight placement and getting balance centred), before doing adage (short slow routines often reliant on balance and strength), followed by pirouettes (turns on the spot), and allegro (more vigorous dance routines often involving jumps and leaps; one leg to the same leg; one leg to the other leg; one leg to two legs; two legs to one leg; two legs to two legs). Usually the class will finish with turns across the room starting from a corner, and a final stretch out/warm down. None of the vigorous routines are long - a couple of minutes or so at most usually (and often less than that) -and each one has to be demonstrated by the teacher so those of us in the class know what is expected which acts as a break between each one and a chance for a breather.

Aerobic exercise has always been a problem for my asthma. Walking is not a problem, so long as I pace myself properly; running is another matter. Anything much over a hundred metres will result in my chest tightening up. But it is rare for me to need a ventolin inhaler during a ballet class.

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Do you take ventolin before? My consultant told me to do that, but then he was surprised I still had that reaction from my little 20 minute run.

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You sound the same as me. Taking ventolin before exercise has never had much of an impact on my ability to do something like running.

I don’t take ventolin before a ballet class, but I do have it in class with me just in case. But that’s what works for me - it may be different for you. I do use my steroid inhaler morning and evening, and that’s usually enough. Of course, if I’m having a flare up then what’s usual for me doesn’t apply and I might then take a ventolin before class just in case. If I’m really struggling then I don’t attend class - but that is very, very rare and usually only occurs if I have a bad viral infection when I wouldn’t do a class anyway.

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Thank you, you’ve been very helpful.

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I have had asthma all my life and I prefer walking. Sometimes I can walk quickly and sometimes I can't but at least I can judge my own pace. We live between two hills so I have to climb hills every day. It keeps my legs strong! I prefer walking to swimming because I think the chlorine sometimes sets me off. The downside is that sometimes the humidity and airborne allergens set me off. An alternative is yoga. I have always found yoga good. Find something you enjoy. Don't settle for something you don't really want to do.

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Have you found the asthma limits the amount of physical exercise you can do? I’m so confused to whether I should accept limits, adapt or whether I need to relook at preventative medicine. I loved boxing, dance class, spin and a bit of cross-trainer.

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I would try to push towards your limit but not past. It will take time to build yourself back up again. If you need to stop for a break, don't be ashamed of doing so. If you are unsure, speak to your GP, asthma nurse or try the asthma UK helpline. The nurses are great at offering advice.

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I am thinking for cardio based is to maybe just do a bit of treadmill walking and then increase it slowly to uphill or a jog! See how I get on. I’m just not a yoga bunny, I find it so dull.

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Sounds good! Hope it works for you. 😊

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Me too 🙏🏻😂

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Sorry jumping onto this as I have severe asthma and also find exercise hard to work out! I mostly do walking as like emmasue I can do that at my own pace, and try to take stairs etc when I can. I find it hard to work out when to push through because sometimes I won't find out till later that I shouldn't have pushed! I did get told by a resp physio not to use HR as a guide (mine zooms up into the.top zone very quickly and so it's hard to use as a guide) but rather to go on how I feel and aim.for moderate intensity not high.

Problem.is I am inflexible (physically lol) and have never been sporty so don't know how to find something I would like and go back to that I can manage. I tried trampolining when I was less severe and the instructor gave me funny looks and gave me about 3x as many breaks as the other guys at which point I would basically have to rest on the mat on the floor.

I find the gym boring. Really like the sound of ballet MaggieHP, are there any well.endowed, tall, inflexible women doing it? ;) I would be awful even without pointe work but might enjoy it if you don't have to be any good.

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No, you don’t have to be good at ballet to participate in an adult ballet class. See if you can find a qualified teacher who runs a Beginners’ ballet class and give it a try:-). My current teacher is ISTD qualified, but I’ve also had RAD qualified teachers in the past when I’ve lived in other parts of the country. Explain that you have asthma to the teacher. The teachers I’ve had have all been very understanding about my asthma and are quite happy for me to take a ventolin inhaler in with me just in case. Though as I mentioned above, it’s rare that I need to use it:-).

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Oh, and yes, I’ve been in classes with well endowed women before now as well. Lack of flexibility - that’s not uncommon either in beginners:-).

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Thanks! I will look into it. I am mostly hopeless at sporty things but would like to find something I enjoy and can do, and I love ballet music :)

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I am so glad i am not the only non-gymmy person around!

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I find it really boring.and just such a faff to go! Then I have endless guilt about not doing enough exercise.

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Yep! Me, too! Could not do it unless the chosen machine had a screen where I could choose myself what to see. And less overall loud music (drives me demented.)

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I really can't offer advice because I am pretty much exactly where you are---just wanted you to know you are not alone. Used to do zumba, go to the gym, some jogging--but as my asthma got worse (prior to being diagnosed) I dropped everything. By the time we figured out what was wrong and got me on meds, I had established a fear of exercise. I find it is easier to do stuff in the summer, but I really want to get back on track for the whole year. Sadly, I don't think my asthma is controlled enough to do so without triggering my asthma.

I guess that is my advice--make sure you are under good control first. Also, go gradually and listen to your body. Even though I tell myself it is okay to push a little, I hold back. I should listen to myself XD I'm going to follow this thread in case other people give more advice.

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I’m just not confident with my asthma because I’m not familiar with it. I’m also not all knowledgable about fitness either, so the vague ‘warm up properly’ really doesn’t mean much to me. I just really miss knackering myself out in a class.

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I know the feeling. I am still relatively new to all this, too. From what I gather, a good warm up is a dynamic warm up that lasts from 5-15 minutes, depending on the length and intensity of the exercise. The idea is to gradually get your body used to the rhythms of exercise and increase the intensity. There are several videos on youtube instructing on how to warm up for various activities.

I can give walking as an example. Before starting your walk, do some light warm ups such as: side-to-side lunges (slow and easy), arm circles, waist bends, light jumping jacks. Nothing should be done intensely, and static stretching is usually better for after workout cool down (by the way, many websites recommend a good cool down, too, for asthmatics). When you start walking, keep the pace slow and even and gradually increase.

Something like that.

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I think I might do a bit of cross trainer / treadmill but start light and then may slowly pick up speed or resistance. Do 20 minutes every other day and see what happens! Im just not a yoga bunny.. might reluctantly give it a go.

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hehe I understand. I want to do walking, but the weather is too cold out (my doggy misses me :( ) And we don't go to a gym--too expensive right now, so I am going to try some weight training. I heard anaerobic workouts are sometimes good for asthmatics. Remember to take your time with the cross trainer/treadmill. If it has been a while, maybe try ten minutes, then fifteen, and work up to see how quickly you can recover from where you left off--and hopefully, make sure you go on a good day! ^_^ Good luck!

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Hi

I am a fitness instructor and asthmatic. I have had asthma since I was 11 and been teaching for over 20 years, with asthma. And I mean everything from spinning to weights to martial arts and boxing and if my asthma is controlled I have no problem at all pushing myself and going hard! However more and more recently I have noticed when I have a flare up I have to listen to my body or pay the price (asthma becomes worse) so my advice would be don’t give up on exercise, but take it easy until you know how your body responds to the different exercises. Weight training and swimming can strengthen the breathing muscles to support your asthma and cardio (when well) is great for improving your lung capacity, and all of that can help us asthmatics.

good luck

M

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I agree with this. Listen to your body. You just need to work around the asthma to do what you want.

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Hi, would you say that in a normal gym class with qualified instructors, the warm up is more than sufficient for an asthmatic ? Also would you say a Zumba class & boxing class can be provoking? What classes would you recommend initially to build my confidence up? Sorry to jump on you like this.

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Hi there

I would say the warm up component is key. With asthma you need to spend longer than a non asthmatic warming up your lungs, as it were. Also take your reliever before exercising as this helps. I would personally recommend you spend longer than the rest of the class warming up as too sudden increase in intensity tends to trigger some response in most asthmatics in my experience.

And a word of caution with any instructor, they are not all made equally! You get amazing qualified instructors with great knowledge and experience who will habe studied extensively and those that have passed a weekend course with no anatomy and physiology requirement (ie Zumba course) that’s not to say all Zumba instructors are bad but make sure they have done an exercise to music course as well. Zumba alone covers no human physiology which means they do not cover any health conditions.

Make sure you put your safety in good hands.

I hope this helps

M

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That’s what I’m worried about, I might sign up to a gym and set up a programme/go off the advise of one of the fitness instructors. I’m thinking of doing some treadmill stuff and start walking and then increase the speed slowly or the hill depth slowly. Do maybe 15 minutes at a time and increase it over a period of a few months.. does that sound like a good starting point cardio wise? Otherwise a good legs bums & tums can’t hurt?

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Sounds good and just listen to your body! I know when I overdo it, unfortunately

Good luck

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Hi Thommo90

WE've got some top tips about exercising and there are some videos from our Sports Therapist James on warming up bit.ly/2reRaUA

As long as your asthma is well managed there’s nothing to stop you having a go at pretty much any sport. But you’re much more likely to stick to a good exercise routine if you choose an activity you enjoy doing and that fits easily into your life.

If you have any questions about your asthma, this booklet has lots of information about keeping in a routine. bit.ly/2iQRJhs

Hope that helps,

Dita

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Asthma UK also has a great page on their website about exercising with severe asthma - sorry Dita if you hsve already linked to this! I really appreciate the advice as so many places whcih advise on exercise start off by saying make sure your asthma is well controlled. I have daily symptoms and admissions every few months and I cannot control my asthma any further (consultant etc have confirmed that, though it could be worse I know and several people here are). So telling me to control it first isn't helpful advice and is the kind of thing that makes people like me and orhers on this thread give up because we don't know how to approach it! Plus I find all the examples of elite athletes with asthma make me feel lazy and wimpish so this page from AUK is great!

asthma.org.uk/advice/severe...

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I feel my issue is that I’m not sure what my benchmark of well controlled asthma is. My consultant is knowledgable and highly respected but lacks a little in communication skills (like myself) .. for example I had to actually ask if I had been diagnosed with asthma and then had to ask where I was on the spectrum and if it was mild. He said yes mild. I think we are a right pair, I don’t really know what to ask so don’t and he doesn’t offer information.

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You are so like me XD I think I can say that---if you are having trouble doing normal things in your day to day life, then you are not well controlled. If you use your blue inhaler a lot, you are not well controlled. At least, that is what I have been learning.

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It is something you have to learn I find and takes time. And consultants are often not great at communicating about this kind of thing (and other things...) Asthma nurses.can often be better I have found. Are you really so mild though if you have needed to see a consultant? May be worth chatting with the nurses on here. I agree with anjyll that if you are struggling day to day you are not well controlled.

I would add there are different benchmarks. I have just seen my asthma nurse at the hospital and she was happy with how I'm doing even though I have symptoms every single day and a good day is just needing reliever 3x a day! My GP was a little unhappy with this idea of control, but my view is if I can lead my life more or less normally around my symptoms more often than not, then that's good (it helps a lot that I don't have an active job, work indoors etc). However, I would urge most people not to settle as mostly asthma *can* be controlled even if it takes a bit of time! I have met people who look at me and think it is normal and I tell them they should aim for minimal symptoms and not think it is normal to need their inhaler every day!

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I see a consultant purely because I have BUPA through Work. I started to get a little frustrated during diagnosis as I kept seeing someone different and they would say ‘take this and come back in a week’ but it wasn’t resolving. I don’t think my spiromtary showed anything. I also don’t have an asthma nurse at my doctors anymore. When my gp wanted to send me on to see if it was asthma or something else, I offered to use my BUPA as I feel I shouldn’t put more burden on the nhs when I’m fortunate to have the cover. First thing the consultant did was refer me back for a chest X-ray.

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Sorry replied early.. in terms of asthma itself, I think my anxiety and my acid reflux are both more of a bother at the moment, so it’s hard to say. You read some many things that condradict what I’ve been told that I’m not feeling confident, I don’t know whether to fully put my confidence in my consultant or not.

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Have you considered asking your Doc to refer you for Pulmonary Rehabilitation? I was referred by my respiratory nurse in August.

The exercises are specifically for people with lung conditions and are tough at first but well worth sticking to after 6wk ( twice a week )course finishes. Also they monitor you before & after aswell as an info session after 1 of the classes.

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That definitely sounds interesting and beneficial, but I’m also conscious that I probably wouldn’t be severe enough to qualify. My quality of life isn’t bad, I just don’t want it to deteriorate because I havnt made the most of keeping my lung health up whilst I can.

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I do yoga and cycling. Yoga is great because there is always something you can do (even if it’s just sitting there relaxing!) I like cycling when I am in better shape asthma-wise as it’s really good cardio but easy to control effort.

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I’m really not a yoga person, it’s far too chilled for me. Music is normally my motivation and i like to be upbeat with it. BUT I have heard it is very good for breathing so may commit for a few months and see i find a new appreciation.

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I didn’t think I liked yoga till I found flow and power yoga - done with music and can be very intensive exercise. And definitely good for breathing.

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A bit late to the discussion but if your asthma is well controlled you don’t think there is anything wrong with you, I find I need to build up my fitness (I took up cycling 18 months ago initially riding 8-10 miles and built up to 60 after 12 months when I turned 60 years old) I take 2 shots of ventolin whether I think I need it or not and start at a steady pace building up and rarely have a problem.

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Never too late. Every comment is appreciated and yours is exactly the kinda comment I needed to read. Bit of a confidence boost. My asthma seems to controlled until I do exercise, but slow & steady might be the way to approach it and over time hopefully I will learn my limits the good way rather than learn the bad way

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If you are like me you should feel your lungs getting stronger and you can feel that you are using the full capacity when taking a deep breath

Good luck

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You ask: "What works for those with exercise induced symptoms? Any tips? If medication is working, should I have any issues?"

You can have plenty of issues. When you exercise you rely on your muscle control functioning probably. The brain together with the spine controls how the muscle works. Unfortunately. things can go wrong when the brain sends incorrect muscle control signals to the muscles or a muscle has been over contracted (this causes problems with movement and can produce discomfort). If you have had a disturbed sleep regime the fine control of muscles is likely to go a bit awry.

See an Alexander Teacher who can help you look at your muscle control and improve it. They could reduce your asthma symptoms as well.

alexandertechnique.co.uk/

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