Don’t Let Asthma Get in Your Way: Top 10 Tips for the Asthmatic Triathlete


Contrary to popular belief, people with asthma can participate in athletic activities like triathlons without having an attack or feeling symptoms. In fact, exercise can help improve your lung function when you have asthma.

The difference between you and other athletes is that you need to exercise with a little more caution. For instance, creating an asthma action plan with your doctor is a key step.

For more tips about performing as a triathlete with asthma, keep reading. We found 10 for you!

Are You a Triathlete with Asthma?

If you have asthma, it’s important to be aware of your status. When you are attack-free and your condition is well controlled, you can train just as people without asthma do.

The functionality of the lungs in an asthmatic person’s body is reversible; they become “normal” when the asthma is in a controlled state.

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms, don’t worry. Speak to a pulmonologist in order to gain control of it first.

Once you’ve gotten into a more controlled zone, you can exercise safely while following these tips:

1. Get a Proper Diagnosis

You can’t treat properly treat an ailment if you aren’t 100% certain about what it is. And just because you regularly deal with coughing and wheezing doesn’t mean asthma is the cause.

In fact, many other illnesses share the same symptoms as asthma. One that is commonly mistaken for it is vocal cord dysfunction.

Get a proper diagnosis from your doctor so that you are receiving the right treatment for your situation. This step alone makes a world of difference.

2. Know Your Limits

Triathletes perform a lot of cardiovascular exercises that are strenuous on the lungs and heart. In some cases, such training can trigger an asthma attack.

It’s important to understand your body’s own limits and how far you are able to push it. Always take your time when it comes to increasing your speed or endurance.

On top of understanding your limits, you need to monitor your asthma. If you don’t have good control of it, you shouldn’t dive into training until you do.

3. Don’t Leave Home Without Your Rescue Inhaler

If you have your rescue inhaler with you when you’re exercising, you can quickly grab it if you begin to experience symptoms. Some asthmatic athletes use their inhalers before exercise to keep the symptoms from occurring.

Talk to your doctor to see if taking that extra preventive step is necessary in your case. In the meantime, you can learn more about inhalers here.

4. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Warming Up and Cooling Down

Sudden changes in your activity levels, like going from resting to a full-blown sprint, is known to set off asthma symptoms. This is why you should start your workout slowly with a warm-up.

You should apply the same way of thinking at the end of your workouts too. Don’t just suddenly stop. Slowly ease your body out of your workout with a cool down.

5. Check the Pollen Counts First

Before you head outside to exercise, check the pollen counts first. If the pollen count is especially high, you should workout indoors.

But if you insist on going out, shower as soon as you get back home to get the pollen off your body and clothes.

You should also be equally mindful on high pollen days that are also windy or breezy. Why is pollen such a big deal?

Pollen allergies can sometimes bring out your asthma symptoms. And exercise tends to magnify them.

6. Keep Yourself Warm

Cold air creates dry airways that can swell and cause irritation. It also causes your body to produce histamine, the chemical your body makes when you’re having an allergy attack.

These events brought on by cold air can make you wheeze and experience other asthma symptoms. So, if you are going for a run on a chilly day, it’s important to protect yourself from that cold air.

You don’t need to bundle up in Eskimo gear. A protective mask will do the trick.

7. Create an Asthma Action Plan

An asthma action plan is one that you sit down with your doctor to create. The purpose of it is to minimize attacks, flare-ups, and emergency room visits.

Asthma plans vary between patients because they are designed to make sense for your lifestyle. As an athlete, your plan should support your training.

If you aren’t in the “green zone” where your asthma is calm and controlled, you shouldn’t be exercising.

This plan should also clearly explain what you should do in the event of an asthmatic emergency. This way, you are less likely to panic.

8. Master the Correct Breathing Technique

When you are exercising, the way you breathe affects how your body performs. Your breathing should correlate with your movements.

For example, while running, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth is best. It may take some getting used to, but you will notice the difference once you master the technique.

9. Be Honest About Your Condition

It’s perfectly normal to keep an illness to yourself to avoid feeling pity. But letting at least one person know about your asthma can help you if you have a serious attack during which you can’t speak.

It might even be helpful to wear a medical bracelet or necklace that shows your status. This will make the process of giving you treatment much easier for anyone coming to your aid.

10. Don’t Smoke

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that 21% of the adults who have asthma are smokers.

Smoking can cause agitation in the lungs and worsen asthma. So, if you are going to work out with this condition, it’s best to quit or avoid starting.

The body can repair itself after smoking and help you breathe better.

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If you are a triathlete with asthma, don’t allow your illness to hold you back. You can still perform in triathlons. Just as any other athlete, you need to practice proper training and nutrition.

For more information about triathlons, follow our site. We’ve got all the details you’ll need.