There are many conditions affecting breathing, and asthma treatments in particular can be helped by low intensity aerobic work.
Asthma is characterised by wheezing, shortness breath, and for some sufferers tightness or sharp pains in the chest. Asthma attacks can be triggered by allergies, exercise, emotional stress, irritants, cold air, infection or certain medications including beta-blockers.
Unfortunately, asthma treatments like exercisig can for some stimulate an attack, typically in the first 10 minutes following any exercise. The most widely held explanation for exercise induced asthma is the loss of bronchiolar heat and water.
If you have suffered from this in the past, or have indeed avoided exercise because of your condition, it may be worth talking to a personal trainer who has experience working with clients with breathing difficulties. There are several things you can do to make your exercise more enjoyable :
- Swimming is often a good activity for those with chest conditions, due to the warm moist environment.
- Avoid exercise in a cold or dusty environment or when the pollen count is high.
- Always have your medication with you, and use it when necessary.
- Learn how to use both your heart rate, and also the Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) to assess how hard you are working.
- Allow time for a gradual warm up, to allow your body more time to adapt. This can lessen the chances of chest tightness and wheezing.
- Use good posture to allow full use of lung capacity and encourage good breathing techniques (e.g. avoid holding your breath or breathing out with effort during resistance exercises).
- Interval training may be more appropriate than long spells of exercise.
- Exercises which require a major contribution from the upper body (e.g. rowing) may be more difficult than those performed primarily with the lower body.