May 5, 2021, is marked as World Asthma Day (WAD) by the Global Initiative for Asthma, (GINA) a collaborative organization of the World Health Organization (WHO). This day is recognized worldwide to create awareness about Asthma.
WHO recognizes Asthma as a major non-communicable disease with 262 million people being affected in 2019 accounting for 461000 deaths.
Asthma is characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, with varying severity and frequency from person to person. An asthma attack is typically characterized by swelling of the bronchial tubes leading to narrowing of airways thus reducing the flow of air within and out of the lungs. There happens to be no permanent cure for the disease however can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes to prevent repeated episodes or exacerbations.
The theme for this year’s World Asthma Day is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. This theme has been adopted to address the common myths and misconceptions limiting people suffering from Asthma to lead a normal life and participate in physical activities/sport.
One of the foremost misconceptions about Asthma is that ‘Asthma sufferers should not exercise’ while the fact is that individuals with well-controlled asthma, are able to exercise. The heartthrob soccer star David Beckham is a living example who won the UEFA President’s Award for his exemplary performance in 2018.
In this article let’s unveil the misconceptions about Asthma.
Can people with Asthma play Sports?
YES. People with Asthma can actively participate in various physical activities and sporting events provided they follow a proper medication plan prescribed by the doctor. There is an unending list of elite athletes with Asthma who have shown exemplary excellence in sports.
How can Sports help people with Asthma?
Exercise strengthens the muscles in the lungs thereby improving lung function. Exercise also strengthens the immune system thereby reducing the attacks.
Exercise is the most underrated mood elevator. Exercise produces endorphins – the feel-good hormones that act as pain relievers and happiness boosters thus keeping depression at bay. (http://sportsnarad.com/the-role-of-exercise-when-battling-anxiety-and-depression/)
Exercise keeps a check on weight which would otherwise have a negative impact on the outcomes of Asthma.
What precautions must be taken while playing a sport?
- People with Asthma should not over-exert themselves and adapt to a moderate daily routine for fitness.
- Adopt a warm-up and cool-down routine while exercising.
- Practice breathing through the nose while exercising as the nose moistens and filters the air before it reaches the lungs.
- It is better to avoid physical activity/sport when sick.
- Asthma is triggered by extreme climatic conditions, allergens, and pollution. Hence it is advised to take necessary precautions in extreme hot or cold conditions, in areas where pollution and pollen content is high; indoors can prove a better option in such cases to avoid exacerbations.
What are the best Sports for people with Asthma?
Swimming is considered one of the best sport for Asthma. Swimming is a very good exercise for strengthening the muscles of the lungs and improving lung capacity. A study conducted in patients with stable Asthma reported that swimming increases cardiopulmonary fitness without any untoward effects in Asthma. Further physical activities and sports such as walking, biking, gymnastics, cycling, and golf which do not require excessive exertion can be the best options for Asthma.
What are the worst sports for Asthmatics?
All the sports that trigger Asthma symptoms such as ice hockey, skiing, ice hockey due to extreme cold conditions are best avoided. Endurance sports like hockey, soccer, long-distance running are demanding sports and should be played with caution considering fitness advice from the doctor.
Does Yoga benefit people with Asthma?
The effectiveness of YOGA in increasing muscular efficiency, endurance, and aerobic capacity makes it one of the best exercises in Asthma. Yoga also reduces the perceived exertion stress after an exercise session which helps prevent exacerbations. A review conducted in 2015 suggests improvement in overall quality of life and pulmonary functions in people who adopted a holistic program of asana, pranayama, and meditation in mild to moderate persistent chronic Asthma.
A holistic program comprising of the cow pose, mountain pose, cobra pose, bow pose, boat pose, and corpse pose along with Nadishodhana Pranayama, Bhastrika and Bhramari have shown proven benefits in various studies on Asthma. Yoga also increases mental endurance. (http://sportsnarad.com/role-of-yoga-in-improving-physical-and-mental-endurance/)
Guided meditation practice is effective in controlling extreme emotions and keeping the mind calm.
Asthma is a disease that has no permanent cure but can be best managed with proper exercise and lifestyle routine. It is possible to take up a sport professionally if one wishes to with proper medication and a planned exercise and diet routine in consultation with a physician.