9 top tips for running with asthma

running with asthma
Image Credit: torwai/ iStock

With an action plan and some breathing exercises, athletes with asthma can not only indulge in such intense sport, but also excel in it

When you think of asthma, running doesn’t feel like a favorable sport. But, before you jump to any conclusions on running with asthma, think about this, “Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain, who was diagnosed with asthma at the age of 14 is a marathon world-record holder.” And, Paula Radcliffe isn’t alone.
Famous athletes Jerome Bettis, Amy Van Dyken and Dennis Rodman, all have asthma. But, they all accomplished great things by overcoming their asthma.

So, don’t let asthma curb your dreams. Athletes with asthma symptoms can not only reap the benefits of running, but also excel in it. However, there are a few tips that will aid in enhancing your performance and ensure that you enjoy running with asthma.

You should always consult your doctor before starting out. This is important. Your doctor will advise you to take precautions based on the severity of your asthma and help you develop a running routine. Runners with preconditions can avoid asthmatic attacks by taking a dose as directed by a medical expert minutes before the run starts to manage exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

Tips for running with asthma

Have a plan for emergency

You should consult your doctor beforehand to create an asthma action plan. You must know, whether you should call your doctor or get relief with a rescue inhaler in case of an emergency. The plan should include preventive measures to control your asthma triggers.

Warming up

Never skip a warm up session, as getting your lungs worked up before the main run can help avoid a serious spasm. The idea is to work your lungs to induce some wheezing as there’s a refractory period for bronchospasm. It normally takes about four to five hours before you have a second attack.
It is a good idea to give yourself a ten minutes cooling time after running as well.

Know your limits

Always start small. Go for shorter distances or low intensity runs in the beginning, and stop when necessary. Gradually start increasing the distance and intensity of your runs.

Pay attention to your body

Running is a strenuous workout. In the exhilaration, it is easy to miss out on vital body signals while running. But, it’s important to be aware of your body signals that are not normal and stop running to give your body time to recover.

Best weather for asthma

Morning is a good time to run outside. Running during warmer months is better for asthmatics as the weather will be gentle in the morning. Pollen as well as pollution is usually low during this time.

Check the weather

If you are going for a longer run, it is advised to check on the weather. Extreme cold or hot weather can cause asthma symptoms to aggravate.

Take regular breaks

Long-distance running can trigger an asthma attack, as it requires prolonged intensive breathing. So make sure you take regular breaks to recover yourself.

Take precautions

Always try to have a partner to run with. They can come in handy in case you experience asthma symptoms. Avoid going to remote areas where getting quick medical assistance in case of emergency could pose a challenge.

Breathing exercises

There are several breathing exercises that athletes with asthma can benefit from. These breathing exercises may help in enhancing your breathing patterns and benefit you in your runs. For example, if you feel shortness of breath, you can practice pursed lip breathing. This technique helps more oxygen to enter your lungs and slows down breathing.

You can also practice:
• The Papworth method
• Buteyko breathing method
• Nasal breathing
• Deep yogic breathing


Don’t let asthma curtail your ambitions. Running is healthy and fun. Even if you are suffering from severe asthma, you can practice running regularly with proper precaution and medical help. Be aware of your body and its limitations and ensure all safety measures are in place. Make a long term plan and stick to it and I assure you, like a normal runner, you will reap all the benefits of running.





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