5 Safe and Easy Exercises for People with Asthma

Asthma or “ hika ” in Tagalog is a long-term lung condition that affects more than 200 million people globally. This condition is considered...

Asthma or “hika” in Tagalog is a long-term lung condition that affects more than 200 million people globally. This condition is considered to be one of the world’s most common non-communicable diseases, although it is more prevalent in children who are yet to have a fully developed immune system.

Asthma attacks involve inflammation and constriction in the airways, which can be triggered by factors that vary from person to person. Some of the common symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightening of the chest.

Asthma symptoms can come and go, but they often become worse at night or while exercising. Because asthma could potentially worsen during exercise, some people with asthma believe that they should veer away from fitness activities altogether. That shouldn’t be the case, however, especially since exercise is good for your health. In fact, exercise can help you increase your endurance, improve your lung capacity, boost your immune system, and strengthen your muscles, including your heart.

If you have asthma and want to get your dose of fitness now and then, here are some exercises to get you started:

Simple Breathing Exercises

Doing some breathing exercises is one of the simplest ways you can manage your asthma symptoms every day. These exercises help open up your airways, allowing fresh air to penetrate your lungs and minimizing the burden of breathing. Some breathing exercises to consider are:

      Diaphragmic Breathing (Belly Breathing): Breathe in through your nose and let your belly fill up with air. Breathe out through the mouth. Make sure to relax your shoulders and neck to properly position your diaphragm.

      Pursed Lip Breathing: As with belly breathing, breathe in through your nose and breathe out with pursed lips. Make sure that you exhale twice as long to help your airways stay open longer.

      Nasal Breathing: Slowly take deep breaths through your nose. Similar to belly breathing, you need to make sure that your belly is filled with air. This will increase your oxygen intake and help you slow down your heart rate and breathing.

Practicing these breathing exercises regularly will help get rid of the stale air that has accumulated in your lungs. As a result, your diaphragm can do its job more efficiently. Of course, it would be best to consult your doctor about medications you may need to take or what you need to avoid before attempting to do breathing exercises.

Walking, Light Jogging, or Hiking

Going on a walk or a light jog is a great way to get sunlight and fresh air for your lungs. It’s also a low-intensity exercise, so you don’t have to worry too much about minding your breathing (or your knees). If you want a more immersive experience in nature, you can opt to take a short hike instead. However, make sure that you hike in areas with a low pollen count to prevent an asthma attack.

In addition, you should ensure that you’re walking, jogging, or hiking during warm weather to prevent your symptoms from getting triggered. Cold, dry air irritates your airways, which can cause irritation and worsen your asthma symptoms. If the weather outside isn’t ideal, you can get your exercise on an indoor track or treadmill.


Similar to walking, riding a bicycle is a gentle form of exercise that doesn’t require you to overexert yourself. It’s also a great way to keep your leg muscles in shape, plus it allows you to savor nature through a fun activity. That said, because cycling is usually done outdoors, you should make sure to avoid potential asthma triggers like pollen.


Swimming is a great exercise for people with asthma because it builds up the muscles for breathing. Aside from the low pollen exposure, you will also be breathing warm and moist air, which is less likely to trigger adverse reactions. Moreover, some studies show that swimming can improve cardiopulmonary fitness and lung function; these can help you better manage your condition.

That said, you also need to be careful about swimming in chlorinated pools, which can trigger symptoms in some people. You may want to talk to your doctor first to see if it’s safe for you to swim in these pools and if there are any medications that can prevent adverse effects while swimming.


Yoga is another low-impact exercise that you can practice regularly to improve your health. Yoga allows you to optimize your breathing as it involves slow inhalation and careful movements. Aside from its benefits on your physiology, doing yoga is also known to improve your mental health and quality of life. In particular, it’s helpful in reducing your stress levels and allowing you to better manage life with asthma.


A Final Word

Apart from the exercises mentioned above, you can also partake in sports as long as they are gentle on your lungs and don’t involve high-impact bursts of activity. Examples include golf and gymnastics, which provide you with intermittent breaks.

Lastly, you should remember that getting physical activity through exercise or sports should not be a cause for concern. Just remember to take medications as prescribed and always consult your doctor if you believe that changes in your daily routine might impact your health. At the end of the day, exercise plays a big role in helping you achieve a healthy lifestyle and maintain a sense of normalcy—even with long-term conditions like asthma.

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