Running, jumping, throwing. Playing sports is physical and gets kids’ heart rates up and breathing faster. So, it only makes sense since asthma can cause breathing problems that kids who have it should avoid sports, right?
Wrong. Being physically active and playing sports is an especially good idea if your child has asthma.
“Being physically active is important because it helps to improve lung function by strengthening the breathing muscles in your child’s chest so they function better,” said Tracy Rife, RN, BSN, AE-C, asthma and Easy Breathing® program coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. “It also helps keep weight down, which is important because obesity is a risk factor for asthma flare-ups.”
Though some sports are less likely to cause asthma flare-ups – such as golf, baseball and gymnastics – others like cycling, cross-country running, soccer and basketball require extra precaution. In addition, cold, dry air in the winter or heat and humidity in the summer months can trigger asthma symptoms.
But, these roadblocks shouldn’t get in the way of your child playing the sports he loves. With the right training, medicine and asthma action plan, kids can play any sports they choose.
“All sports should be tolerated as long as the child’s asthma is under control, and he’s taking his medicine as directed by his doctor,” said Rife. “The goal is to prevent flare-ups, so we recommend giving kids their quick-relief inhaler about 15 to 20 minutes before playing. This relaxes the muscle bands around the airways so they can breathe easier and focus on their sport.”
In addition, she offers 5 tips to help avoid flare-ups while on the field.
- Have your child skip outdoor workouts when the pollen count is high.
- Put a scarf or ski mask around your child’s mouth when he plays outside during the winter months when the air is cold and dry.
- Instruct your child to breathe through his nose instead of his mouth while exercising.
- Make sure your child warms up and cools down after play.
- Tell your child to listen to his body and follow instructions by his doctor if he experiences breathing problems.
It’s a good idea to inform your child’s coach and teammates about his asthma. Make sure the coach knows what steps to take in case of a flare-up or emergency.
Keeping your child’s asthma under control will keep him in the game and off the sidelines.