Best Exercise for Asthma Patients
Living with asthma can be drastically different from a normal lifestyle. Individuals with severe symptoms may also find activities as easy as talking and walking too stressful.
If you are an asthma patient who shies away from physical activity, you will be amazed to know how the right exercises can improve your condition.
We have compiled a few exercises, which can help you get back on track. Keep reading to know which asthma exercise can benefit you the most from an array of options.
Can exercise cure asthma?
Although asthma and exercise are not known to go hand in hand for many patients, the pros and cons of physical activity depend on the approach. There are a handful of exercises, which medical professionals have recommended for asthma patients repeatedly.
Now, these might not cure asthma altogether since there is no ultimate cure for this respiratory condition. What they can do is keep your symptoms in check and prevent them from interfering with your regular physical activities like walking, talking, jogging, climbing the stairs, etc.
Which are the Best Exercises for Asthma Patients?
Here are some exercises you can try out under medical supervision to prevent this chronic respiratory condition.
1. Yoga (Breathing exercises)
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Breathing through alternate nostrils)
This exercise for asthma aims to purge all Nadis or energy channels in the human body of blockages by getting rid of accumulated toxins. To practise it, one must follow these steps:
- Step 1: Place your left hand on your corresponding knee.
- Step 2: Position your right hand’s index and middle fingers between your eyebrows, ring and little fingers over your left nostril, and thumb on your right nostril.
- Step 3: Close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril.
- Step 4: Next, inhale through the left nostril. Close it with your ring or little finger, release your right nostril, and exhale through the latter.
- Step 5: Inhale through your right nostril and repeat the cycle from Step 3.
Be gentle with your breathing. Complete 9 such cycles and remember to keep your eyes closed throughout.
Any asthma patient can perform this exercise to reduce hyperventilation that often triggers asthma symptoms. Here’s how you can carry it out.
- Step 1: Sit in a comfortable chair, keeping your spine erect.
- Step 2: Close your eyes and mouth, and inhale through your nose, keeping your chest and abdominal muscles relaxed.
- Step 3: Next, exhale slowly till you feel your lungs are devoid of any air.
- Step 4: Now, hold your breath till you can do so comfortably.
After completing this set, resume breathing normally.
This exercise is recommended only for patients with mild asthma symptoms. It combines nasal and oral breathing techniques and involves 2 simple steps.
- Step 1: Steadily breathe in through your nose.
- Step 2: Breathe out two times slower through pursed lips.
You can repeat this process 3-5 times.
As the name suggests, this asthma exercise strengthens your diaphragm, a muscular structure that aids in breathing.
- Step 1: Lie down on your back and bend your knees, keeping one pillow beneath them.
- Step 2: Keep one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest.
- Step 3: Take in a deep breath through your nose. While doing so, make sure that your chest stays still and your stomach extends outwards.
- Step 4: Next, purse your lips and slowly breathe out through them.
Repeat this cycle a few times.
2. Yoga moves
Besides each breathing exercise for asthma patients mentioned above, several yoga moves ensure comfortable breathing.c
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist)
This yoga pose expands your chest and improves oxygen supply to the lungs. It also enhances your lung capacity. You can practise it in the following steps.
- Step 1: Stretch out your legs in front, keeping your feet together.
- Step 2: Bend your left leg inwards so that its heel is near your right hip. Now bend your right leg over your left knee.
- Step 3: Place your left hand over your right knee and position your right hand behind you.
- Step 4: Now, twist your waist and neck towards your right and look over your right shoulder while keeping the spine erect. Do not slouch.
- Step 5: Stay in this position while gently inhaling and exhaling long, deep breaths.
- Step 6: After exhaling, release your right hand, waist, chest, and neck in this order and relax while sitting up straight.
- Step 7: Repeat this method for the reverse side and follow it up with step 6.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)
This yoga move helps expand your chest and lungs that eventually improves breathing.
- Step 1: Lie down on your back.
- Step 2: Now, fold your knees, keeping your feet away from your hips in such a way that your ankles and knees make a straight line.
- Step 3: Rest your hands on both sides of your body with their palms against the floor.
- Step 4: Slowly breathe in and lift your lower, middle, and upper back off the ground gradually.
- Step 5: Support your weight on your arms, feet, and shoulders and lift your chest so that it touches your chin without bringing your chin down. Make sure your bottom is firm against the ground and your thighs are parallel to each other.
Hold this position for some time and then release. Repeat the process to complete a set.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
This yoga technique has many health benefits, including those that make it a suitable exercise for asthma patients. To practise this:
- Step 1: Lie upside down or on your stomach, keeping your forehead and your toes flat on the ground.
- Step 2: Pull your legs close so that your feet are touching each other slightly.
- Step 3: Position your hands on the ground below your shoulders.
- Step 4: Inhale and lift your head, chest and abdomen gradually, supporting your torso’s weight on your palms.
- Step 5: Arch your back to the fullest you can to form a curve in your spine. Now, angle your head backward to look up.
- Step 6: Hold this position for a while, breathing regularly at the same time.
- Step 7: Exhale and bring your torso down to the ground to relax.
Continue breathing normally and repeat the process a few times.
Although it is a common belief that asthma patients cannot take part in sports, there are a few outdoor games proven to help improve lung activity.
Here is a list.
- Racquet sports
Some tips to follow for asthma exercise
Here are some general practises that physicians advice asthma patients to observe in their exercise routine.
- Warm up before starting any exercise to help your body get accustomed to the activity. Similarly, slow down all activities until you finally stop when you are done.
- Use a pre-exercise inhaler to help your airways relax and facilitate better respiration during exercise. If this treatment fails to control your symptoms, consult your doctor for long-term medications.
- Always cover your mouth and nose with a mask/scarf when exercising outdoors. This will limit your exposure to pollutants, cold air, and other possible triggers.
In addition to following the above precautions, take necessary breaks between periods of activity. Overexertion can only do more harm than good.
Benefits of exercise for asthma patients
Asthma is a chronic condition that does not have a permanent cure. We understand if this makes you question the efficacy of any asthma exercise. To solve your dilemma, here is a list of ways in which such activities improve your respiratory system.
- Enhances lung capacity by increasing oxygen consumption and retention ability.
- Builds exercise tolerance and helps you perform physical activities like climbing the stairs more easily.
- Strengthens muscles, eventually improving bodily functions.
- Minimises inflammation of your airways.
- Increases blood flow to your heart, thus improving oxygen delivery.
These functions, together, can relieve asthma symptoms to a great extent and even help you lead a normal healthy life.
However, not all exercises are meant to help your condition and some can be outright dangerous. Therefore, always check with a medical professional before starting an exercise plan.
Which exercises to avoid when suffering from asthma?
Here is a list of activities that are generally considered detrimental for any asthma patient.
- Breathing exercises:
All of these require continuous activity, which can exhaust your lungs and worsen asthma symptoms. If your symptoms are more on the severe side, these activities can even trigger an asthma attack.
Is it safe for asthma patients to exercise?
We have already established which asthma exercises to perform, which ones to avoid, and the several precautions to consider. The purpose of all exercises for asthma is to improve your respiratory function without increasing your breathing rate to an abnormal extent. Otherwise, it can cause what is called exercise-induced asthma and end up doing more harm than good.
While several individuals with mild asthma can still carry on with extreme sports, other patients might experience trouble performing even light aerobic exercises. So, mostly these discretions vary from person to person.
We suggest you always consult your doctor before starting on a new exercise. This must be done regardless of whether you have a history of exercise-induced asthma or not. Exercise itself is linked to breathlessness and you do not want your efforts to increase lung capacity to backfire.
This is especially a possibility in individuals out of activity for long. A medical professional can track your breathing and customise the most suitable routine as per your needs.