This month we talk to Dr George Janko, Medical Director, McKinnon Sports Medicine centre on his advice on how best to approach physical activity if you or a family member has asthma.
Asthma is a breathing disorder caused by an over sensitivity of the linings of the airways, leading to constriction of the air ducts in the lungs.
It appears to be hereditary and is brought on by specific irritants, such as infections, dust, pollens, animals, fumes, nervous tension and in some people, vigorous exercise. Studies have shown that asthmatics react more adversely to exercise in dry conditions and cold conditions.
Absolutely not! In fact, regular exercise is recognised as an important component of living with asthma. With continuous and gradual exercise, a person with asthma will develop greater respiratory muscle tone and possibly reduce the need for medication.
Obviously aerobic exercise eg. running, swimming or cycling are the best option for improving respiratory muscle tone. However, care should be taken with warm up and cool down and possibly avoiding exercising in cold conditions (eg. winter mornings). As asthma is a serious and potentially life threatening disease, it should not be taken lightly. Fitness testing under the guidance of a sports doctor can be of great use in designing exercise programs and ensuring asthmatics reach their full potential safely.