RUNNING and ASTHMA. . .

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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. After some time, I guess I kind of out grew it but it reoccurred once I started to train for collegiate track and field.  The weather was cold, unpredictable and breathing got a lot harder during and after most of my workouts.

Running and Asthma may not sound as though they should be in the same sentence but over 25 million Americans suffer from it.  With the proper treatment, you can live your life and continue to be active.  When my friends see me take an inhaler,  they are very surprised and ask, how can you run and have asthma? I say, "easy, I take care of myself"! Talk to your doctor, get the proper medication and take them consistently.

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 are a  runner but remember always, consult your doctor first!

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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!

Nicol A Hodges

Nicol A. Hodges aka "Nic" is fitness professional (NASM, CPT/PES) and product designer living in San Diego, CA. Nicol's athletic background started in her hometown of St. Charles, MO where she earned her 400m state ranking 3 years in a row. Later, at the University of MO, Columbia she earned 8-Big 12 Track and Field titles and a championship title. Nicol currently continues her love for running by competing in local and national running events.