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Asthma And Exercise

What did one in six American athletes have in common at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games?  According to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (9/00), they shared a history of asthma.  One of those athletes was Jackie Joyner Kersee, who is the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, despite the fact that she has asthma.

According to this study, asthma didn't hinder these athletes' performances because they were treated.  This is great news in the role model department for those with asthma. While most of us will never reach the Olympics, those with asthma and other allergies should be encouraged to exercise in a competitive or personal fitness environment so long as they follow their physicians' management and treatment recommendations.

In general, following these tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology will help you breathe easier if you have asthma, reactive airway disease, or even moderate to severe allergies:

  • Consult with your physician before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Don't overexert yourself. Be sure you can talk while you walk, for example.
  • Skip the exercise if you don't feel well, or if you have had a recent allergy attack.
  • Stay away from high-pollen areas. 
  • Monitor daily allergy, ozone and pollutant levels in your area. If they are high, alter your routine or take the day off.
  • Exercise indoors or wear a facemask if needed.
  • If necessary, take your medications before you exercise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after you exercise.
  • Remember that warming up and cooling down are vital parts of any workout.

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Created: 3/28/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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