Asthma & Exercise

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This is doubly true for people with asthma. Exercise can even help improve lung capacity and reduce asthma symptoms.

Dumb bells and running shoes

Having asthma doesn’t have to limit your ability to enjoy or excel at sport and exercise.  The Asthma Society’s 'Reach Your Peak with Asthma' booklet is designed to help people with asthma enjoy exercise and get the most out of the sports they play.

Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, but especially for people with asthma. In fact, research has shown that a structured exercise regime can improve lung function and can be a key part of good asthma control.

If your day-to-day asthma is well controlled you should not need to use your reliever inhaler more than twice a week

Woman and little girl doing push ups

Common Asthma Symptoms

  • Coughing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Wheezing


Common Asthma Triggers in Exercise

  • Cold air

  • Long distance running

  • Fitness test

  • Chlorine in swimming pools

  • Pollen (including grass cuttings)




Top Tips for Exercising with Asthma

Maintain good asthma control by:

  • Taking asthma medication as prescribed.
  • Managing your asthma triggers.
  • Develop an asthma management plan with your healthcare professional

Always warm up gently for approximately 15 minutes before more vigorous exercising and cool down afterwards.

  • This helps your body and in particular, your lungs, to get ready for the upcoming, more strenuous exercise.

Always have a reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you when you exercise:

  • If your asthma is triggered during exercise take your reliever inhaler approximately 15 minutes before warming up. (2 puffs of a Metered Dose Inhaler or one puff from a Discus or Turbohaler)

Tell people you have asthma.

  • If you are exercising alone, make sure someone knows where you are and what time you are due to return.
  • Make sure that your coach and the people you exercise with know you have asthma.

If your asthma is triggered by pollen, you may wish to:

  • Check the pollen forecast at .
  • Avoid exercising outside when the pollen count is high.
  • Make sure you are taking the right medication to manage your hay fever as well as your asthma.

If you have asthma symptoms during exercise: STOP, take your reliever medication and wait 5 minutes until you can breath easily and are symptom free before starting again.


Little boy kicking football

Check out The Irish Sports Council for more information asthma medication in competitive sports 

To download your copy of ‘Active With Asthma’, click here or call 01 817 8886 to order a copy by post.  Free postage is available to Asthma Society members. It is free to join and you can do so here, otherwise postage charges will apply.