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Asthma and exercise

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If you’re living with asthma you maybe avoiding exercise as you might find it triggers your symptoms, in fact 33.7% of those we spoke to said just that.* But, this doesn’t have to be the case.

If your asthma is well controlled, you might even find exercise beneficial. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips on how to exercise with asthma.

Can exercise help asthma?

Regular exercise can be beneficial in your asthma management as it can improve how well your lungs perform, so you have more stamina and are less likely to get breathless. It can help boost your immune system, so you are less likely to have your asthma triggered by coughs or colds.

Exercise is also good for weight loss, which can reduce your risk of symptoms and a asthma attacks. Exercise is also good for your overall health as well, as according to the NHS it can reduce your risk of developing other long-term conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. It can also help you sleep better, have more energy and lower your risk of osteoarthritis.

How much exercise do you need to do?

The general advice for adults 19 or over is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, as well as strength exercises 2 days a week that work all your major muscles. This breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. Moderate exercise should raise your heart rate and make you feel warmer.

Getting active when you have asthma

If you’re just starting to exercise with asthma more, you might feel intimated about going to the gym or picking up a sport. Or, you might be struggling to find the time to exercise. There are a few simple ways you could add some exercise into your day including: taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking your dog (or one you’ve borrowed!), or even getting off the bus a few stops early. 

Exercises to try

Feeling a bit more confident? You might be ready to try other exercises, but you might not be sure which ones are suitable. The good news is, as long as your asthma is well managed, you can have a go at whatever exercise that you want. You’re far more likely to stick to a good routine if it’s something you enjoy, so it’s a good idea to find an exercise you like and that fits into your life.

You could consider:

  • Joining a local league, such as a football or netball team
  • Taking up swimming
  • Starting running (you could always look at the NHS’ couch to 5k)
  • Taking a class at your local leisure centre

How can I control my asthma while exercising?

If you’re taking your preventer medicines everyday as prescribed and you’re feeling well generally, you shouldn’t have any problems exercising. When you’re exercising, it’s normal for your heart to beat faster and your breathing to quicken.

If you’re doing particularly intense exercise, or you haven’t been active in a while, you might feel out of breath, hot or sweaty. If you start to notice asthma symptoms such as coughing or wheezing or a tightness in your chest, you need to stop what you’re doing and take your reliever inhaler quickly to avoid symptoms getting worse.

Asthma medication

If you’re worried about asthma making you feel breathless or triggering your asthma attacks when exercising speak to your GP or asthma nurse. They can check you’re on the right medication, using them correctly and could recommend activities to try based on your overall health and how well you’ve been managing your asthma recently.

If you’re looking for a for a drug free breathing relief alternative, to use alongside your prescribed medication, the REVITIVE Aerosure could help.

Exercise-induced asthma

Exercise-induced asthma is a specific type of asthma, that is only triggered by exercise. If you have exercise-induced asthma, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at all, but you’ll need extra help to manage your asthma symptoms. Speak to your GP or asthma nurse if you believe you have exercise induced asthma, and they will be able to talk to you about exercise that is right for you and when to take your medication. 

Looking for more advice on how to exercise with asthma?

  • Speak to one of our pharmacists for advice on how to manage your asthma.
  • Asthma UK have a guide on how to exercise with asthma
  • Speak to your GP or asthma nurse


*Survey of 2000 participants by LloydsPharmacy, conducted by 3GEM Research & Insights in 2018