Asthma is a chronic lung disease that can make breathing difficult primarily due to tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways and inflammation in the lungs. I have been suffering with asthma since I was a small child. My parents and I got the asthma under control until I hit college. Collegiate Track and Field workouts became more intense and so did my breathing problem.
Running and Asthma may not sound as though they should be in the same sentence but they are and they can be! When people see me take my inhaler and they know I am a runner, they are very surprised and ask, how can you run and have asthma? I say, "easy, I take care of myself"! If you have asthma and want to run or workout, start by working closely with your doctor and develop proper asthma management. Once you take control, you can do anything!
Don't take my word for it, the proof is in the pudding; six time gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and the topped ranked marathoner, Paula Radcliff are two women who both live with asthma and continue to make incredible strides in the running world and community.
Here are some tips to consider if you do have asthma and you want to start a running workout OR you have been running, yet have some concerns. As always, consult your doctor first!
Before we start, always remember to take your inhaler with you! There are hundreds of running pouches and athletic gear that will have an area to hold your inhaler. You don't want to get stuck out in "no man's land" having an attack! TAKE YOUR INHALER, Nicol! . . . Oh, did I type that?!? I meant . . . YOU, THE READER! LOL!
Ok, here we go!
1) If you are a few pounds overweight, you may want to consider losing those pounds in order to run more efficient and relieve some of the pressure that you are putting on your lungs and body. Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . the weight issue! I know but think about it, if the extra pounds are weighing heavily on your heart, spine and lungs, think about how they are NOT helping your asthma. Lose the "L B's"!
2) Next, evaluate your diet and make sure that you are getting plenty of fruits, vegetables and cutting down considerably on the fatty foods. Fatty foods = extra pounds and what did I just suggest above?
3) Drinking lots of water and fluids throughout the day will aid in keeping the inflammation in your lungs down. You have to stay hydrated as a runner anyway, so make sure you get in as much as you can!
4) When running, the best conditions for "asthmatic athletes" is warm, humid weather conditions. Having some moisture in the air is like having a natural humidifier. Dry air can sometimes increase your chances of having an attack. Been there, done that, didn't like it! So, be aware of your environment, start out slow and stop if you feel your airways tightening up.
5) If you are a city GAL or GUY, there are A LOT of pollutants in the air that will trigger an attack sooner than if you were not in a busy city. Again, don't let that stop you! Running in the early morning or late nights are always the best because of less traffic and STUFF in the air. As much as I may not like my 5am runs, it is beneficial for my health and that is why I do it.
Remember, asthma is a disease that does not have a cure. Take care of yourself and manage your asthma medication and intake to prevent an attack from occurring. As always, happy running and let's get out there!