Couch to 5K

Can asthmatics do this?

1st day, did 3 mins in total. I have asthma and have always found any aerobic exercise a struggle was diagnosed after keeling over during cross country at school many years ago. Everybody seems to say it's hard at first...and I'm thinking in terms of I did 3 more mins today than yesterday!

I hadn't had breakfast before I went out ....should I and if so what's best?

Any other asthma suffers who can give advice, share experiences? Thanks

8 Replies

Asthmatics can do this. I am a member of the huffa puffa club, and I have done the whole stretch. Of course everyones asthma is different, and mine is mainly triggered by allergy, but I started in January, so the cold really messed with my chest. And I still have difficulty in doing it.

I run early in the morning and it takes me about 20 minutes to get started from opening my eyes at 5:30, so the first thing I do is take 2 puffs of the brown, then just before I leave I take a blue puff then I'm off.

It does take time, but you can do it. In fact it gets easier and as you work through the programme at your own pace, you will be able to do it.

Have fun!


Hi beatasthma,

I am on week 5 and, yes, I do have problems with my breathing sometimes. I could not complete W5R2 and was disheartened but I just went back a bit and I'm ok again. Some practical tips:

If it is very cold outside try running indoors on a treadmill

Breath through your nose if you can - it warms the air

Take your reliever about 5 mins before you set off and again when you get back

Breath slow deep breaths from your abdomen as you jog

These all help me.

Remember there are olympic athletes with asthma (Paula Radcliffe is one) so yes you can do it! Just take your time and repeat as many times as you need to and you will get there.

Good luck!


An excellent investment to aid running in very cold conditions is a neoprene face mask (it covers the nose and mouth to warm the air on entry) available at good running shops/ski shops/outdoor stores.


I totally agree with the others about taking the reliever inhaler before you start. I normally take a couple of puffs on the 5 minute warm up walk. I found that if I started without it I was always leaving it slightly too late to take it and it affected my performance.

Since exercising I have made sure that I take the brown one morning and night so that my lungs are in the best shape generally. I used to be quite erratic about taking the preventer and just rely on the reliever as required but now I'm a runner (yay!) I appreciate more how it keeps the lungs in optimum condition generally.

I also try to take long deep breaths all the time I'm running. I tried the breathing through the nose thing that Laura recommends but found that I wasn't getting enough air in quickly enough. So now I just breathe in a way that suits me.

Keep going. You'll be amazed at how much your lung capacity will improve with each week.


Yes definitely. Like the others I always make sure I take the reliever before I go out - sometimes my chest feels a bit tight and I need a couple of coughs but once I've been running for five to ten minutes I feel good. Am about start week 9 so that shows what yu can do with asthma!


Thanks everybody I will keep going with it...even if it's at a very slow pace. I'm pretty out of shape generally so forsee having to repeat weeks, but I'm more concerned with seeing if I can get to the point where I can run at all rather than how long it takes.

I don't know of others get this but in addition to struggling for breath on my first attempt (will take the advice on inhalers for the next time) I got quite wobbly- legged. Is this connected and will it also get better with practice? That's why I was wondering about breakfast, I felt a bit like I had blood sugar shakes. I can't imagine wanting to run on a full stomach though, Any further advice've been so helpful already.


Hi beatasthma. I'm answering very late so not sure if you will see this - I've only just discovered this forum, as there used to be a different one attached to the scheme. But I'm very very asthmatic, have been all my life. It was a big challenge when I started. I got 2 very good bits of advice: cover your mouth when running outside in the cold; and take a puff of reliever 15-20 minutes before starting.

I really struggled in W1 but I'm on W6 now, my asthma has improved no end, I wouldn't have believed it. I hardly seem to need my inhaler just getting on with the day now at all, although I do still make sure to have a puff before running.

I think the fear of being short of breath affects us asthmatics a lot, but once you've experienced having to breathe deeply without it turning into a full-on asthma attack, it gives you confidence to continue. Good luck.

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Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question brownfox, the more I hear of asthma suffers succeeding with C25k the more it spurs me on. Had a bit of a lapse due to weather and feeling a bit under the weather, your mail is's making me want to get back out there! Good luck with W6 :)


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