Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Health & Fitness
  3. Healthcare

You are not out of shape: you may have exercise asthma

Do you step on the treadmill or elliptical machine and feel like you can’t breathe within a few minutes? Do you go outside to run with your dog only to stop at the end of your street out of breath? The reason you are experiencing shortness of breath may not be that you are out of shape – you may be suffering from exercise asthma.

Exercise asthma happens more often in cold air and is characterized by bronchospasms - a contraction (or spasm) of lung airways. Experts aren't certain what lies behind this phenomenon. One theory is that the increased blood flow caused by exertion forces the blood vessels in the airways to expand, leading to constriction of the airways. Another theory holds that cold air activates certain inflammatory cells in the airways. The evaporative loss and cooling of the airways triggers the process of bronchial constriction. Exercise asthma is a fairly common phenomenon, not only among general population but also among the Olympic athletes.

What can you do to prevent an episode of exercise asthma? The easiest thing is to exercise in a warmer and more humid environment, engaging in sports like swimming, for example. However, keep in mind that exercising in hot, humid climates brings other problems, such as overheating and dehydration. If you do exercise in colder weather or an air-conditioned gym, you can use a bronchodilator. Usually delivered via rescue inhalers, drugs (such as albuterol) fight the symptoms by relaxing the muscles that line the airways in the lungs. Take two puffs about 15 minutes before your exercise and your breathing will remain normal. Warming up for a few minutes before hitting full exercise mode, breathing through your nose (to warm and humidify the air before it hits your airways), and wearing a scarf or a facemask around your mouth can also prevent symptoms.

Sources: Amanda Gardner - CNN




  • Dan Savage
    Dan Savage cares about LGBT youth, bullying and saving lives
    Today's Buzz
  • Raku
    Teachers and students can use this summer to learn a new skill
    15 Photos
  • Beach body
    Fitness: Earn your beach body badge with bootcamp classes
    10 Photos
  • Greek wine
    Unwind with these delicious wines: The thrilling wines of Greece
    7 Photos
  • Mandy Moore
    Exclusive interview with Celebrity Mandy Moore concerning animal activism
    5 Photos
  • Educational family vacations
    Find out how to take an educational family vacation that doesn't break the bank
    9 Photos