How to Exercise Safely When You Have Asthma

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDApril 15th, 2021
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Exercise is one of the most important practices that you can incorporate into your daily routines. From improving mental well-being to enhancing your physical fitness, it’s a comprehensive and versatile activity that will ultimately benefit your health in the long haul. That said, everyone has their limits and sometimes exercise can feel like an impossibility—this is often the case for those with asthma or similar lung conditions. While you may think that exercising with asthma is a recipe for disaster, it’s actually one of the better ways to improve overall lung health and alleviate your asthma symptoms. The trick is finding suitable exercises—typically low-impact workouts or sports with short bursts of activity—that focus on:

  • Increasing endurance
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improving lung capacity
  • Strengthening muscle
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness

What About Exercise-Induced Asthma?

Some forms of aerobic exercise can worsen asthma-related systems—this is called exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). While both can interfere with the way you workout, you can learn to manage symptoms with breathing exercises. Examples of breathing exercises for asthma include diaphragmatic and pursed lip breathing—both will improve lung capacity which can help you actively participate in low-impact aerobic exercises or cardio without triggering symptoms. Before you jump into a new workout plan, it’s also important to understand your limits and gradually introduce new exercises into your routine. Your doctor should be able to help you define those limitations and recommend exercises that are suitable for your overall health and current fitness level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced).

The Best Physical Activities For People With Asthma

If you suffer from persistent asthma or EIB, the best way to regularly exercise and manage symptoms is by avoiding exposure to environments that might trigger your asthma. This typically involves steering clear from dry air and pollen, especially during allergy season. During these months, try to keep your workouts inside where conditions can be controlled. Here’s a list of the best physical activities for those with asthma:

  • Swimming (one of the most recommended exercises for those with asthma)
  • Yoga or pilates
  • Walking
  • Low-impact hiking
  • Recreational biking
  • Sprints (short-distance track and field)
  • Low-impact high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Participating in group sports is another great way to stay accountable for your exercise routines and benefit from the long-term results. Group sports that involve short bursts of activity followed by intermittent breaks are ideal for those with asthma, as they are gentler on the lungs but still engineered to improve lung capacity and cardiovascular health. In addition to HIIT training, these sports include:

  • Baseball or softball
  • Golf
  • Football
  • Volleyball
  • Dance
  • Gymnastics

Breathe Easier With DispatchHealth

While exercising is one of many ways to improve lung function and manage asthma symptoms, exacerbations can still happen. When they do, DispatchHealth can help. We understand how alarming an asthma attack can be, especially when you’re unprepared, and have designed our on-demand service to cater to those experiencing these unforeseen exacerbations. We deliver acute care to homebound patients, helping them receive advanced, in-home medical attention for their unique conditions and their exacerbated symptoms. Best of all, we’re in-network with most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid.

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Learn more about DispatchHealth’s service by exploring our site, or request care today. We’re rapidly growing and covering new markets across the country!


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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