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4 Exercises For Asthma Patients | Best Benefits and Tips

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

This is a question everyone wonders about. Did you know that people who exercise regularly are almost 2.5 times better at taking control of their asthma as compared to those who don’t? This was discovered through a study of 643 adults with asthma published in 2015 in the journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research. Asthma can make exercising more challenging as one finds it hard to breathe. 

While many people want to skip physical activities as they think it triggers asthma, they tend to miss out on the key benefits of exercising, including taking better control of their asthma. 

Which exercises are best for asthma?

 One must always speak to their treating doctor before starting any exercise plan, as every patient may respond differently. While not all exercises are suitable for people with asthma, the following are some exercises that will not exacerbate the symptoms and can help decrease the frequency of such attacks in people with mild to moderate asthma:


One of the best exercises for asthma is swimming, as it builds up the muscles a person uses for breathing. It also exposes the lungs to a lot of moist and warm air, which makes it less likely to trigger asthma. A comprehensive medical review of eight studies of children and adolescents from 2013 showed that swimming increases lung function and cardiopulmonary fitness without any serious side effects in people with stable asthma.


Walking is a form of exercise that can be easily incorporated into one’s daily routine. A study published in 2006 showed that regular exercise, such as walking, improved symptoms of breathlessness (dyspnea) in subjects with moderate to severe chronic lung disease.

According to an asthma survey conducted in the UK, 69 per cent of people with asthma said that they enjoyed walking as a form of exercise. With so many apps and devices available today, it is easier to keep track of the number of steps completed in a day. It would be beneficial to walk instead of taking a car or public transport and achieve the set goal for the day.

Over the years, I have observed that if you encounter chest pain, tightness, coughing, or difficulty breathing during exercise, it’s essential to halt the activity right away. Use your quick-relief inhaler as prescribed and take a moment to sit down and relax. Practising belly breathing can be beneficial, helping you take slow, deep breaths from your abdomen to ease discomfort and bring your breathing back to normal.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS


Yoga is said to be another great form of exercise for people with asthma as it practices breathing control. A 12-week study in 2009 showed a significant improvement in asthma symptoms and lung function in subjects who practised breathing exercises twice a day, for 20 minutes each.

Yoga poses such as the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) and the Sitting Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana) expand the chest area and allow for better inhalation. Similarly, breathing practices such as the Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama) are beneficial in reducing mucus congestion.

Racquet sports:

Racquet sports, such as badminton or table tennis, involve less running around when compared to other forms of exercise. These sports allow one to disburse energy with regular rests between games and also have access to water so that there is no dehydration which can aggravate exercise-induced asthma.

Based on my experience, I strongly recommend covering your nose and mouth with a scarf when exercising outdoors in cold temperatures. It helps to protect your airways from dry and cold air, keep you safe from potential irritation and inflammation. This simple practice can make your outdoor workouts more comfortable and reduce the risk of respiratory problems.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Tips for exercising with asthma

There are steps you can take to exercise safely with severe asthma:

It is important to always have the reliever inhaler by your side when you are exercising with asthma. If you feel the asthma symptoms are being triggered, take a break and take the inhaler and make sure that the symptoms subside before you get back to your exercise regime.

  • Warm up

It is vital to acclimate the body to physical exertion before jumping into any kind of physical activity when exercising with asthma. Hence it is advisable to spend 5 to 10 minutes doing light warm-up exercises before starting any workout. One would not want to shock the system of the human body. Always keep in mind to pace the body throughout the workout to avoid overexertion. Do not forget to have a cool-down session after the exercise.

  • Take precautions when it’s cold

It is important to take extra precautions when dealing with cold weather. Wrap a scarf loosely around the mouth and nose to warm the air before it enters the airways. If one knows that cold weather triggers asthma, it is best advised to stay indoors. Try and stick to activities which do not require a person to step outside, like yoga or walking on a treadmill.

  • Avoid pollen & pollution

It is important to stay away from pollen while exercising with asthma. Always check the weather report for pollen counts and air quality. If the report is not good, it is best to opt for indoor activities. Also, stay away from busy roads and areas near factories. Always make sure that you inhale clean air as much as possible.

  • Be consistent

Regular physical activity can lead to better asthma management and symptoms, especially in obese patients. A randomised controlled trial of 55 obese subjects showed significant clinical improvement in asthma control after being assigned to an exercise regime for 3 months.

Brought to you by Cipla. 

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.



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