Since joining the Run Mummy Run facebook community I have paid great attention to the frequent posts about running with asthma. I was diagnosed with asthma as a child but thought I’d grown out of it until I started getting physically active in my thirties. My asthma goes through phases, sometimes it is so mild I barely notice it until I run but at the moment I am more or less constantly wheezy. I’m working with my asthma nurse to find what works for me but in the meantime I want to know how to run safely and comfortably with asthma.
I contacted Asthma UK to get their advice on how to run if you have asthma….
Sonia Munde, Head of Helpline and Nurse Manager at Asthma UK, said: “Exercise, including cardio vascular exercise like running, has amazing benefits for everyone’s general health – and although some people with asthma may feel anxious about exercising, it can be particularly beneficial for them. For instance, we know it can improve the way your lungs work and help you manage your weight, which might reduce your symptoms and cut your risk of an asthma attack. It’s also worth remembering that many world-class athletes – including Paula Radcliffe – have asthma.
“Basic common sense advice applies if you have asthma and want to run: ease yourself into training gently, always warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards, take your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you on runs and if you have asthma symptoms mid-run; stop, take your reliever inhaler and wait for your symptoms to go before starting again.
Running with Asthma in Winter
“Asthma symptoms are more likely to be triggered during exercise in cold weather, because cold air can irritate sensitive airways. As well as having your reliever inhaler with you, you could also try loosely wrapping a scarf over your nose and mouth but if it’s particularly chilly, try running on a treadmill instead or go for a power walk instead of a run.
Exercise Induced Asthma
“Some people only ever have asthma attacks while exercising which is known as exercise-induced asthma – so it’s really important that if you have asthma, you can tell the difference between feeling out of breath through exercising, which is normal, and the symptoms of asthma. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, gasping for air, tightness in the chest and having trouble speaking in short sentences.
“The best way to avoid exercise triggering asthma symptoms is to manage your asthma well every day; take your medication regularly exactly as prescribed, check with your GP or asthma nurse that you’re using your inhaler correctly, use a written asthma action plan and keep it where you can see it (on the fridge or on your mobile phone, for example) and go for regular asthma reviews.
“If you get a cold and your asthma symptoms get worse and you’re worried about starting a new exercise regime or exercise-induced asthma, have a chat with your GP or asthma nurse first for advice.”
For further help and advice call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 or visit: www.asthma.org.uk/advice-trigger-exercise To download a written asthma action plan visit: www.asthma.org.uk/advice-asthma-action-plan