Working out with asthma

I have asthma. That’s a fact I have only known for about 2 years or so. There had been some suspicion for a while, but results had never been conclusive. My asthma mostly plays up whenever I strain myself: exercise, walking up stairs, heavy lifting. But I am quite the workout lover and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about how I work out despite my lungs not always cooperating.

working out with asthma

Working out with asthma

Working out is how I found out about my asthma in the first place. I had shortness of breath for years and also nearly passed out during PE classes in secondary school. Yet, no one ever figured to have anyone look more closely to my symptoms. It wasn’t until 2009, when I joined a gym and started trying out different classes that I noticed a distinct correlation between working out and struggling to breathe more than usual and most other people.

Around that same time I started my allergy immunotherapy and during the testing for that procedure, they also tested my lung capacity. I scored quite well despite severe hayfever and what I now know is asthma, but what the tests didn’t show is how badly I felt afterwards. I was left coughing for 2 weeks after one particular test, but because the test itself went well doctors didn’t really know what to do with me.

And so I started working out and I started to work out more and more. Adding cardio to the list as well. As I started my immunotherapy, my doctor decided it would be good to try out some asthma meds, just in case it would improve my condition even more. None really made much of a difference, until I started working out. That’s when I noticed a huge improvement.

Fast forward 5 years and I now know why my tests were always inconclusive: because I’ve been dancing and working out my entire life, I have a good basic level of fitness which affects the results of an asthma test. I always score just above the threshold, until I have to actually do something physically. Running to catch a train? Forget it. Walking up a few flights of stairs? No way, José.

So how do I work out with asthma? By not giving up and taking my meds when I need them. I’m not going to lie: it’s tough, especially when I’m coming down with a cold or if my hayfever is playing up. But then I try to just maintain a steady pace or just don’t do everything like I normally would. As long as I keep going and do what I can, I keep working on my overall level of fitness. Not doing anything, would be truly disastrous.

I had another lung test just over a year ago and my lung capacity had improved by 5% due to my hayfever treatment and diligent workouts. Moreover, I took a fitness test a few weeks ago and it showed that even without my meds I score just above average. That to me was not only a surprise, but also motivation to keep going.

Yes sometimes you have to take a step back and choose your battles. However the more I work out, the more I improve, the longer I can keep going and the more motivated I am to workout again. I may never be able to do everything that the gym people *think* you should, but I have come a long way. From nearly passing out during PE, to doing 60 minute cardio workouts and feeling good afterwards.

What is your experience working out?

7 responses to “Working out with asthma”

  1. I have exercise induced asthma and it keeps me from going to the gym. I get so much anxiety from working out because I can’t breathe. I have an inhaler to use right before I begin exercising but it doesn’t always help. I just want to be able to run and take deep breaths!

  2. After years of workout experience, I have definitely learned to cope with my exercise-induced asthma. It was a long & tough road, but repetition over the years made a huge difference! Great article and keep it up.

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