Does exercise improve asthma?



Unfortunately I have had to deal with the troubles and pain of asthma since I was born. I have suffered from multiple asthma attacks for a multitude of different reasons: sports, allergies, colds, and even from laughing a little too hard. Asthma is a respiratory condition that causes the sufferer difficulty in breathing. A more descriptive definition can be found here. As shown in the image above, the airway of a person with asthma is swelled up and clogged by mucus, leaving little room for air to pass through. In order to help lessen the swelling and open up the lungs, one must use an inhaler (this is the one my doctor prescribed to me). Many things can trigger asthma and asthma attacks, many of which are hard to avoid and dealt with on a daily basis such as dust and pet hair and dander.

In a constant attempt to get out of the treacherous mile run and a couple of other gym class activities, I would use the excuse of “my asthma is really bad today.” I have learned, though, that sometimes my excuse was actually legitimate when the weather was cold and dry. Studies have shown that cold and dry weather makes it harder for everyone to breathe, especially people with asthma, because the bronchi (lungs) swell up.

Starting my freshman year of high school I began getting into health and fitness. I began running a mile about five days a week. I started following this running plan in order to train for a 5K run I was doing in May of my sophomore year. Eventually was running 2-7 miles six days a week, and continue to do this now. I am able to run that much even though I still have asthma (very much so), which is how I got the idea to write this blog.

The Cochrane Collaboration, a network research group, completed a study to determine if there is a correlation between exercise and asthma symptoms. The study required of a group of people who have asthma take part in exercise programs for 6-16 weeks, 3 times a week, for 20 minutes each day. The result of this study was the the moderate physical activity did in fact improve their asthma. Exercise works to strengthen ones cardiovascular strength and endurance by opening up the lungs and increasing the maximum level of oxygen able to be taken in by a person. Not only did the exercise have positive effects on the subjects asthma, but their quality of life as a whole because when a person exercises, Endorphins are released in the body which improve one’s mood. In class, Andrew discussed correlation and causation. This study shows that people who started to exercise moderately saw improvements in their asthma, but this still does not mean that it was the exercise that caused it. There are many other factors, exercise is just one of them.

There is a common misunderstanding that exercise worsens the symptoms as asthma. This is true to some extent. Exercise does not worsen asthma, but it can trigger asthma attack if gone about in the wrong way. If an individual who suffers from asthma exercises too strenuously, he/she is at higher risk of an asthma attack, but this does not mean that the exercise worsens ones asthma overall.

In conclusion, if one suffers from asthma, try exercising! It can be as light and moderate as the Cochrane Collaboration’s study. This is a light workout plan for those who want to try to improve their asthma or for anyone who wants to try it!

Links to my sources:





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