January 20, 2017

Staying Fit with Asthma

by Rob Fischer

Years ago in one of his comedy routines, Steve Allen explained, “Asthma doesn’t seem to bother me any more unless I’m around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar!”

While a dog smoking a cigar is a humorous image, if you have asthma, you know that asthma is no laughing matter. As many as 20 million Americans suffer with the disease.[1]

When I was a kid, asthma didn’t seem to be as prevalent as it is today, but I remember one boy in grade school who was excused from many sports activities because of his asthma. In fact, for years we thought that exercise was bad for people with asthma. But as with so many other medical conditions, we understand a whole lot more about asthma today than we did back then.

asthma triggersThere are two basic types of asthma: chronic asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Exercise can bring on asthmatic symptoms with either type. Those symptoms include:[2]

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tight chest

But with the right preparation and the right activities there is no reason you can’t enjoy engaging in physical fitness like anyone else. And there are plenty of good reasons why you should do so.

Reasons to Stay Fit with Asthma

  1. Maintaining physical fitness is good for asthma, whereas poor health exacerbates it.[3]
  2. By staying fit, you can improve your control of asthma.[4]
  3. Staying fit also increases breath control and can help you reduce your asthma medication.[5]
  4. Keeping in shape with asthma improves heart and lung health.[6]
  5. Being fit with asthma will enhance your quality of life on many levels![7]

Recognize Asthma “Triggers”

A number of factors can trigger an asthmatic attack. Being aware of these factors can help you choose activities that are right for you and help you identify the cause of an attack to avoid future occurrences. These triggers include:

  • Deep, rapid breathing especially through the mouth
  • Dry air
  • Cold air
  • Pollen or pollution in the air
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive chlorine in a swimming strespool
  • Exercising when you’re sick

With the above triggers in mind, let’s consider some of the best exercises for people suffering with asthma.

best exercises for asthmaBest Exercises for Asthma

Generally, the best exercises for someone suffering with asthma are those that require only short, intermittent bursts of exertion. Click to Tweet.

Also, if you are unaccustomed to regular exercise, please speak with your doctor to choose an exercise an intensity most suited for you. Activities in this category are:[8], [9]

  • Volleyball
  • Gymnastics
  • Baseball & softball
  • Wrestling
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Downhill skiing
  • Moderate bicycling
  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi

An exception to the above is swimming. When swimming you’re usually breathing in moist, warm air, so even though you may be breathing more rapidly, swimming is considered one of the best healthy choices for someone with asthma.[10]

Exercises More Likely to Induce an Asthma Attack

Based on the above asthma triggers, some of the activities that are more likely to cause an asthma attack include any sports that involve long periods of exertion (5 to 6 minutes or longer):[11]

  • Soccer
  • Distance running
  • Basketball
  • Field and ice hockey
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing

Even though these activities are more likely to bring on an asthmatic attack, many people with asthma continue to enjoy these sports and even compete in them. About five percent of Olympic athletes take medication for asthma.[12] The key to participating in these or any physical activity is being aware of your body and following some practical tips.

Practical Tips for Controlling Asthma During Exercise[13]

  • Use an inhaler about 15 minutes prior to exercising.
  • If it’s particularly cold outside, or the pollen count or pollution is high, then exercise indoors.
  • Spend about 5 minutes warming up prior to exercising.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Avoid exercising if you are sick or not feeling well.
  • Know your limits and don’t overdo it.
  • Always carry an inhaler in case you need it.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Include a cool-down routine after the activity.

Warm-up and cool-down routines usually consist of stretching your muscles. The warm-up slowly brings your breathing and heart rate to the level required by the activity. The cool-down routine brings these back to their resting or normal rates.

If you have an asthmatic attack while exercising, stop the activity and follow the instructions your doctor provided in your asthma action plan.[14]

Regular exercise and staying fit is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Set a goal to work out for at least 30 minutes, four or five days per week. “Avoiding exercise when you have asthma is an old way of thinking,” according to Rachel Taliercio, DO, a lung and allergy specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.[15]

Find an exercise you enjoy and include a friend for optimum pleasure.

What is your healthy asthma and exercise combination?

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.



[1] Health.com, “14 Best and Worst Exercises for Asthma,” nd, http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20672105,00.html.
[2] American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction,” nd, http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/asthma-library/asthma-and-exercise.aspx.
[3] Chris Iliades, MD, “Best exercises for Asthma: Yoga, Swmming, Biking (cont.),” MedicineNet, August 29, 2013, http://www.medicinenet.com/best_exercises_for_asthma_yoga_swimming_biking/views.htm.
[4] Health.com.
[5] Health.com.
[6] Chris Iliades, MD.
[7] Chris Iliades, MD.
[8] Health.com.
[9] Chris Iliades, MD.
[10] Asthma Center, Partners in Healthcare, “Breath of Fresh Air Articles: Chapter 4: Exercise and Asthma,” 2010, http://www.asthma.partners.org/newfiles/BoFAChapter4.html.
[11] Health.com.
[12] Health.com.
[13] Chris Iliades, MD.
[14] WebMD, “Exercise and Asthma,” March 3, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/exercising-asthma.
[15] Chris Iliades, MD.

The ABCs of Reducing Stress

by Rob Fischer

Asthma is a respiratory condition usually triggered by a stimulus that inflames and narrows the airways, making it difficult to breathe. As a result, one may feel out of breath, tightness in the chest, or fall into bouts of coughing or wheezing. Asthma is a threat to our physical health and well-being.

When we think of triggers that induce an asthmatic reaction, we most readily think of things like:

  • Prolonged, heavy exercise.
  • Cool, dry air; air pollution or pollen.
  • But stress is also a common trigger for asthma.[1]

Unfortunately, when stress triggers an asthma attack, stress and anxiety multiply, because an asthmatic reaction brings on additional stress and even fear or panic. This stress works against us, intensifying the constriction of airways and making it more difficult to breathe.

Thank God that we have inhalers under such circumstances to help us get our breathing back to normal. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to avoid more of the stress and anxiety altogether and eliminate those stress-induced asthmatic episodes?

So much of what stresses us seems to be the little things that accumulate over time. Things like: financial pressures, the neighbor’s dog that barks incessantly, a lingering cold, a broken garage door opener, and rush-hour traffic all mount to generate stress, anxiety and frustration. Then often, all it takes to break the dam is something like a flat tire or a minor spat with a co-worker. Suddenly, we find ourselves under major stress triggering a nasty asthma attack.

So, how do we maintain more of an even keel and weather the storms and stresses of life?

We cannot live stress-free, but we can learn to control the effects of stress in our lives. Click to Tweet.

Our Creator has given us a very simple approach to reducing stress. In fact, it’s so simple that I call it the ABCs of stress reduction.

ABCs of Stress Reduction

1. Acknowledge that God loves you unconditionally and that He is in control.

In perhaps the most well-known verse of the Bible, John 3:16, we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”[2]

God loves you more than you can possibly imagine or fathom. That fact alone is extremely comforting, quieting, and de-stressing, but there’s more. Not only are you precious to Him, but He is in sovereign control of the universe.

If you have children, think back when your child was a helpless baby. You protected and provided for that child. In fact, you probably fashioned your life around that child for its safety, growth and well-being. Acknowledge that God is in control. Because He loves you, nothing can come into your life without His say-so. That’s comforting!

2. Believe that He cares for you and will meet your needs.

The Bible instructs us: “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”[3]

Jesus also encourages us with the words, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”[4]

Obviously, the Lord expects us to work hard and to seek to provide for our family.

But when we’ve done all we can, we need to believe that He will take care of us. Trust Him that He will provide. Click to Tweet.

Years ago, my wife and I experienced God’s provision in a remarkable way that has helped bolster our trust in Him. At the time, I was a full-time student and working two part-time jobs. We were married with two small children. In spite of my efforts to provide for my family, I came home from work one evening and my wife shared with me that we had nothing in the house for supper.

Payday wasn’t for another day, and we had no credit card. We were out of money and out of food. I went outside to pray, mindlessly walking around our garden as I did. I was really having a struggle with God about our situation. I was trying very hard to provide for our little family and we lived very frugally. It wouldn’t have hurt me to go without a meal, but I didn’t want to subject my wife and children to that.

It was still early spring and only a few radishes had come up. So as I continued my conversation with God, I pulled a small handful of radishes. In my prayer, I rehearsed the Scriptures I knew that talk about God’s provision for us and I was encouraged. I didn’t know how yet, but I was convinced that God would provide supper for us that evening.

Suddenly, I looked at the small bunch of radishes in my hand and asked out loud, “What can you do with radishes?” And immediately the thought entered my head, “Make cream of radish soup.” I knew that God had just answered our prayers for supper.

I excitedly ran inside and told my wife, “Honey, we’re going to have cream of radish soup for supper tonight.” She looked at me funny and said, “I’ve never heard of cream of radish soup.” To which I responded, “I haven’t either, but it might be good!”

I set about washing and slicing the radishes, making a broth from a couple of bouillon cubes and adding some dried parsley, milk and flour. I can honestly say that the soup was quite delicious and the whole family enjoyed it. Most of all, however, we were amazed and grateful for God’s gracious provision!

3. Cast all your cares on Him.

There’s a beautiful verse in 1 Peter 5:7:“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”[5] I once had a man tell me that it was arrogant to think that God would be concerned for the petty issues of our lives.

But he was wrong! The context of that verse is all about humbling ourselves before God and reminds us that He is opposed to the proud. Then God explains that one of the ways we demonstrate humility toward Him is by casting our cares on Him, because He cares for us! (See 1 Peter 5:5-7.)

Finally, let the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7 encourage you, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”[6]

Acknowledge that God loves you unconditionally and that He is in control.

Believe that He cares for you and will meet your needs.

And cast all your cares on Him.

Those are the simple ABCs of stress reduction and reducing your stress can improve your asthma!

From time to time, as a reminder of God’s goodness and provision, we still serve cream of radish soup. I’d like to share that recipe with you here (with a few minor modifications since that night long ago). I hope you enjoy it and I pray it serves as a reminder to you of God’s love and care for you just as it has for us.

cream of radish soupCream of Radish Soup


  • 1 bunch (12) red radishes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups organic milk
  • 1/4 cup flour or 1/4 cup corn starch
  • Tablespoon butter
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper
  • dash dried basil


  • Clean and slice radishes into disks about 1/16” to 1/8” thick.
  • Bring chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pan and add sliced radishes, salt, pepper and basil. Then simmer.
  • In a shaker, combine cold milk and flour and shake until well blended. Set milk and flour aside.
  • Test radishes for being done. They should be firmly soft, not mushy.
  • When radishes are done, pour milk and flour mix into the pan, and add butter, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to prevent it from boiling. When the broth begins to thicken the soup is done.

Guten Appetit!

Need encouragement? Share YOUR story of God’s miraculous and detailed provision!

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Rob_FischerRob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes writing curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, training courses, workshops, and books. Rob has written for numerous churches, for Burlington Northern Railroad, Kaiser Aluminum, and Barton Publishing. He has also trained managers in effective business writing. Rob holds two Master’s degrees, both focused heavily on writing. Rob has published eleven books and serves as an editor and ghostwriter for other authors.


[1] WebMD, “Stress and Asthma,” March 27, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/stress-asthma.
[2] Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
[3] Matthew 7:11, Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
[4] Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV).
[5] NIV.
[6] NLT.

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