Control your Asthma problems with exercise and diet

| Updated: June 17, 2022 09:41:14

Photo: Healthline.com Photo: Healthline.com

Asthma is a lifelong disease that needs to be kept under control. Physical activities are sometimes challenging, as there is a risk that it may lead to breathlessness. However, if done properly, exercise can actually help asthma patients.

It has been shown that proper exercise helps to strengthen lung capacity, muscle strength and increase endurance levels. It may also reduce airway inflammation to some extent. The net result is greater tolerance to physical activity and longer asthma-free intervals.

To plan an exercise regimen, the patient must first consult his/her physician to see if any changes in medication are required. Sometimes the physician may add a drug just before the exercise to reduce the risk of having symptoms.

Beginner’s exercise

To start the exercise, a patient needs to be symptom-free at that time. Also, if symptoms appear during exercise, physical activity must be stopped and if necessary, medical support should be sought.

A warmup and cool-down routine should be established for asthma patients. The general advice is to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity. As many Breaks are taken as required.

Duration of exercise

How long should be the duration? According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both is useful. Muscle-strengthening exercise twice a week is also suggested. 

Instead of exercising at a stretch continuously, asthma patients should focus more on brief bursts. Low-intensity activities are ideal to start with, e.g .walking. swimming is a great exercise, so is biking or hiking. Playing your favourite sport may be good too.

We must remember that there are no ‘bad’ activities for asthma patients. Simply taking a daily walk, playing more vigorously with your kids or grandchildren, or doing some gardening will suffice. If you spend your day just sitting, even cutting back on that sitting time may produce some benefits.


A note of caution - we need to be able to identify when exercise is causing problems. Symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness indicate that medication is urgently needed, and exercise has to be stopped. Sometimes exercise may itself cause breathlessness, which should go away once you take a break. If it does not, then probably this is related to your asthma.

If the exercise is being done in a group setting, other people must be aware of what an asthma attack looks like so they can help.

The patient should also be aware of the triggers for asthma, and on which days the risk is higher and avoid exercising on those days. Cold weather often causes asthma attacks, so it may be better to stay home during those times.

Maintain diet

Exercise, if coupled with a proper diet, can help immensely. Being overweight or obese is not good for asthma, and the diet should be organised to gain and sustain the ideal weight. Vegetables and fruits, rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and E are important. They can help fight the airway inflammation in asthma.

Some foods can trigger asthma; those should be identified and avoided. Some preservatives like sulfite can also lead to an asthma attack. These are commonly found in dried fruits, pickles, frozen foods etc.

Foods with a high level of vitamin D, e.g. milk, eggs, and fish like salmon are recommended. Spending outdoor on warm and sunny days can also generate lots of vitamin D in the body.

Overall, asthma patients need to take things slowly and improve their health.

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