Couch to 5K
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Exercise induced asthma, nose breathing, advice please

I have asthma which in normal everyday life is not a bother but when I run it's so annoying. I have a ventolin inhaler and use it before I go out but I'm finding I need to use it a couple of times when I go out. I'm concerened about the coming cold weather and have been doing a bit of reading. Everything I read suggests nose breathing. I did try it when Laura suggested it in the early podcasts but gave up as I needed to get as much air in a possible. The last week or so I've been trying again, So breathing in and out is fine but I can only manage about four times then I find myself with my mouth open gasping for air, hyperventilating, this then forces me to totally slow down or stop until I can get my breathing back under control. This is all very frustrating.

I feel like my legs could run for ever but my breathing is really holding me back. Any suggestions would be great, I'm willing to try almost anything as I love running.

10 Replies


I also have problems breathing correctly through the nose. But I do not suffer from asthma.

I recently have been trying to concentrate on breathing in a very structured way, breathing in over approx 4 steps and out over 4 steps at the same time as pushing the stomach out during exhale phase.

I think this is starting to pay off and feel less out of breath for longer while running. I wonder if the next step will be to use the nose for inhaling?




Everyone I know who runs breaths through their mouth. It's a struggle this nose breathing but apparently if you can get the hang of it it's good.


Hi ellerunner, I'm asthmatic and have been since I was a baby and have two inhalers which I take. Brown one is Beclometasone twice a day and blue one Salamol whenever needed but doctor said to take blue one before each run also to take along just in case. I do find that I'm inclined to get more breathless in the winter when the air is colder also when coming back into a warm/hot house. You may need to get yourself to the doctor and get your breathing checked out there may be an underlying chest problem.

Reference to breathing through nose, I can't do it either I don't get enough air into my lungs so I'm an in/out by mouth and haven't found this to be a problem.

I hope things settle down and you get this sorted because there is nothing worse than running out of puff, try and relax and concentrate on a count of 4 in and 4 out, the biggest problem with many asthmatics is that they don't breath out properly and therefore there is no way they can inhale so its important to make sure you empty your lungs too. A good way to practice this breathing is fast walking and adopt the same breathing time 4 in, 4 out, once you get this right you will be more relaxed while doing it when running. All the best and take care.


Thanks Oldgirl, I had an asthma review with the nurse about a month ago. She asked me all the questions from her checklist but when I mentioned that it really only affected me when I was exercising she said, just use your inhaler before you go out. I asked her about the winter and her only advise was to run on a treadmill (which I really don't think I could do, I'd get bored). I think you are right, I should take a trip to my GP, maybe she will help. It's starting to worry me before I go out for each run, that's not good!


I have a blue inhaler and when I started the program I was getting very breathless and using it at the end of each run. The doctor suggested using it before a run and this helped. After a few weeks I tried running without the puff at the start and I have not used the inhaler for running or in 'normal life' for the last three months. Incidentally I think I always breathe through my mouth when running but I'll see what I really do on the next run.


That's brilliant that this is helping your asthma :)


I have the same problem.....legs ok to carry on but lack of breath/breathing is going to hold me back at some point. Going to do WK4 R1 today and try the in through the nose breathing. fingers crossed it'll work.


good luch with that, I've read that it makes you slower to begin with but once you have mastered it you should be just as fast.


Hello Everyone,

I am following this topic with interest. I am an asthmatic and have just started C25K and look forward to progressing with it, I use a pink preventer steroid inhaler and a blue (ventolin inhaler). I rarely use the blue inhaler.

I have been trying to find information on the internet about how asthmatics should breathe when exercising, most advice is about using your inhaler and not running in the cold, with very little advice about how successful asthmatic runners breath (nose/mouth, rhythm etc.)

When running I cannot get a good rhythm with my breathing and subsequently breath too quickly and get out of breath. I have tried nose breathing but feel I cannot get enough air in my lungs and mouth breathing kind of makes me hyperventilate. I have been to a few boot camp fitness classes and always get out of breath in the warm up. Basically I end up breathing out of my bum! When brisk walking I can hold a conversation and nasal breath.

I don't know whether to nose breath or mouth breath when running, and when I get out of breath I become quite panicky. The fitness instructor at the boot camp has told me its all mental - that I need to calm down and relax to recover my breathing.

Basically I would like to progress on C25K and sort out my breathing rhythm problem so I can run better, longer and faster rather than a gentle jog and get despondant.

Any advice is greatly appreciated


Great post and question. My reply is a little late, but hopefully will help anyone reading later on.

Anyone with asthma MUST ALWAYS breath through their nose, whether exercising or otherwise. I'm constantly amazed that nasal breathing isn't advocated by asthma professionals. The benefits of nasal breathing are too vast to mention - your nose isn't just an ornament you know;) I would urge any asthmatics to investigate the buteyko breathing method, the foundation of which is nasal breathing. I'm a life-long asthmatic and this has quite literally transformed my quality of life. Nasal breathing whilst running is difficult, but can be achieved - you just need to pace yourself steadily to begin with and gradually build up. If you're out of breath slow down and regroup. The benefits are worth it and it's the only way I now exercise.


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