Many scientists, pulmonologists and coaches for many years trying to find the answer to one of the most important issues related to people with asthma, which is: “Can the people with asthma deal with sports activities?”.
For a number of years, public opinion has been that sports negatively affect people with asthma. They were advised not to take part in sports activities, and children with asthma were regularly relieved of physical education. Many doctors have this kind of opinion today, but numerous studies conducted over the years on this subject have proved the opposite.
Asthma is a chronic obstructive airway disease that causes breathing problems. It is characterized by two components: bronchoconstriction and inflammation. This is a chronic inflammatory reaction of the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, most often allergic, which in the stages of deterioration causes tightening of the muscles of the small airways and increased formation of mucus which leads to difficult air flow, and causes choking and other symptoms of the disease-sudden breathing loss, coughing and feeling of tightness in the chest.
Asthma is a very heterogeneous disease, but is still often used division into allergic and non-allergic.
In allergic asthma attacks are caused by exposing some external antigens-mites, feathers, pollen, hair and epithelial waste of domestic animals and molds. It is the most common form of asthma that usually begins in the first two decades of life and is most often associated with other allergic symptoms in patients as well as in other family members.
On the other hand, causative mechanisms are not immune in allergic asthma. Occurs usually after thirty years of age, in patients without atopic tendency (genetically conditioned predisposition to allergy). In this form, many stimuli can cause bronchospasm: lung infections, cold, psychological stress, physical effort, internal and external air pollutants (most commonly cigarette smoke) and many others.
As separate variants of asthma, asthma caused by physical effort, professional asthma, asthma caused by acetylsalicylic acid (so-called aspirin asthma), late asthma reactions and asthma in which there is only cough, especially at night.
Asthma and sports
Physical activity is more than desirable in people with asthma, not only because of physical well-being, but also because of psychosocial reasons. Asthmatics who engage in sports are more likely to get involved in society, they will have a stronger musculature and a better psychophysical condition which together affects the control of the incidence of symptoms. Also in the course of sports activities the depth of breathing increases, the number of respiration decreases, improves lung capacity and improves circulation and heart function.
With the proper treatment program, most asthma patients are so well stabilized that the patient can participate in physical activities without restriction. Of the exercises that have the highest therapeutic effect, the first place takes up swimming because of the warm and humid environment in which it is implemented. Walking, light cycling, yoga, golf, gymnastics, running on short trails are also recommended… In sports such as cycling, running on other tracks, football or basketball, there is a greater likelihood of causing an attack, but this does not mean that asthmatics cannot deal with them. All other sports at the competitive and recreational level are also taken into consideration. The optimal frequency is 3-5 days per week, while the intensity should be adjusted to each athlete, depending on his ability.
At the same time, if asthma is not controlled, there is a great chance that symptoms will occur during exercise. Even in people with good control of asthma who are overwhelmed or have some viral respiratory infection, there is a greater chance of asthma attack. It is indisputable that exercise, in certain circumstances, is the trigger of an asthmatic attack, and if in combination with some other drivers, the risk of attack increases. Therefore, during training you need to pay attention to the state of the environment and your own physical condition: cold air, dry air, smog, smoke, grass, pollen, air pollution, fatigue, stress and respiratory infections. These are factors that, in combination with physical effort, increase the chances of attack multiple times.
When choosing sports (in the hall, outdoors), it is necessary to take into account possible exposure to specific disease drivers. In patients who are allergic to mites, priority should be given to outdoor sports. People with seasonal asthma should be advised to avoid physical activity in the open space at the time of blooming of plants whose pollen is sensitive. Certain sports that take place in the cold air, such as ski racing, ice hockey or skating, bring a greater risk of attack.
Patients are not advised to dive, paragliding, parachuting and similar sports where activity is performed in areas of reduced oxygen concentration and in which it can not be reacted and help the patient. These activities can be extremely dangerous.
In the case of asthma caused by effort, activity is also recommended, because the benefit of physical activity is irreparable. In this case, it is recommended that you consult a doctor before taking the action and take the appropriate medicine.
Here are some helpful tips to do before you start exercising:
- In collaboration with a doctor, make a plan for putting asthma under control, and depending on affinities, choose the sport you want to do. The doctor will inform you about what preventive it is to take before exercise, how much before activities, what to do in the event of an attack, and so on.
- If the training takes place outside, familiarize yourself with the pollen calendar of the area before starting the exercise.
- At the first training, get to know the trainer with methods of assisting in the event of symptoms.
- Always keep the inhaler with you during the duration of the training.
- Pay attention to warming because it usually takes longer for asthmatics than for others. It is necessary to start with a light walk and later gradually increase the intensity and switch to medium and high intensity exercises.
- Before and during the activity, attention should be paid to the intake of the liquid. People with asthma should have higher amounts of fluid compared to other athletes because asthmatics hydrate the mucous membranes.
- If you experience symptoms during exercise, stop exercising and take the medicine recommended by your doctor. If symptoms have passed gradually return to exercise, be careful and pay attention to the signs that your body sends you. If drug therapy does not work, call emergency medical assistance.
Today there are a lot of athletes and Olympians who suffer from asthma, which are so well treated and controlled that they are not a limitation even for achieving world results in all sports. They did not allow asthma to conquer them and stop them from achieving their goals, so do not you!