Asthma is a common chronic disease is the pediatric population. Having this condition, does not indicate that children should avoid exercise or sports participation. Although exercise and emotions can trigger bronchospasm with mild inflammation. Statistics show that almost 90% of asthmatics and 40% of people with allergic rhinitis suffer from exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB). This bronchocontriction typically occurs after 8-15 minutes of physical activity and clears up with 60 minutes. The usual triggers for EIB are running and other cardiovascular activities excluding swimming.
Some of the benefits of exercising for asthmatics are the following:
1. improves aerobic capacity (although does not change pulmonary function tests)
2. swimming can decrease asthma morbidity
3. potential for decrease in EIB severity (exercise may increase the threshold for triggering bronchospasm
There are possible risks to asthmatics with exercise such as:
1. high intensity exercise can trigger EIB
2. bronchial changes with endurance athletes
3. any sports or recreational activities that expose the athlete to dry, cool air, allergens or pollutants could trigger asthma (winter sports exacerbate symptoms more)
4. scuba diving may be dangerous
When children with asthma exercise the following tips are recommended:
1. asthmatic children can participate is any physical activity if symptoms are controlled. A lower risk activity to trigger symptoms is swimming.
2. keep a log of physical activity, triggers and symptoms
3. should be followed by a medical doctor to diagnosis EIB, prescribe proper medications and when to take the medications prior to exercise
4. avoid scuba diving if asthma symptoms are present or abnormal pulmonary function tests
5. for major competitions you may need documentation from physician to use certain medications.
Reference: Philpott, John F MD, Dip Sport Med; Houghton, Kristin MD, Dip Sport Med; Luke, Anthony MD, MPH, Dip Sport Med Physical Activity Recommendations for Children With Specific Chronic Health Conditions: Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Hemophilia, Asthma, and Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: May 2010 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - pp 167-172 doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181d2eddd