For many people, the thought of exercising with asthma conjures images of wheezing, coughing, and gasping. Every minor activity may be a struggle, and oftentimes, people give up on exercise entirely and lose the mental and physical health benefits that come with staying active.
But what if we could replace that picture of someone struggling to catch their breath with the image of someone in peak condition?
Emmitt Smith winning the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys.
Kristi Yamaguchi scoring the gold medal at the Olympics.
Dennis Rodman leading the Chicago Bulls to victory in the NBA Finals.
Not only do all of these star athletes have asthma, all of them learned to control their condition in order to become world-class professionals. And they’re not alone.
In fact, nearly 20% of all U.S. Olympic athletes at the 1996 Atlanta games had asthma (more than twice the prevalence in the general population). And a thorough study done of the past five Olympics found that asthma was among the most common chronic conditions with 8% of all athletes reporting either asthma or airway hyper-responsiveness.
For some famous athletes, such as gold-medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken, sports provided a way for her to train her lungs and learn to control her breathing.
If you have asthma, the idea of picking up a sport or even starting to exercise more regularly can be daunting. But don’t like asthma stop you! By talking to your doctor, you can develop a long-term care plan that allows you to pursue physical activity without fear of an asthmatic attack.
Some people with asthma may find certain sports easier to play, such as baseball, tennis, or swimming, all of which allow for periods of rest or rely on rhythmic breathing. Another good option is a workout that involves short periods of high-intensity exercise, such as Tabata , which can even help improving lung capacity and oxygen intake.
Learn more about how famous athletes overcame their asthma to win titles, medals, and championships.