Q: I have exercise-induced asthma and want to lose 50 pounds. What are good exercises for me?
A: First and foremost, check with your doctor or an asthma specialist before beginning an exercise program. Many people with exercise-induced asthma can work out safely, but you may need prescription medication. When your doctor gives you the green light to exercise, here are some general guidelines to avoid an attack:
Warm up first. No matter what type of exercise you choose, spend five to 10 minutes doing the activity at a reduced intensity — walk slowly, pedal easily on flat terrain, etc. This prepares your lungs for exercise, and studies have shown it helps to reduce asthma attacks.
Take it easy. Stick to low-intensity workouts such as walking instead of running, or low-impact aerobics instead of high impact. As you become more fit, your lungs become more efficient, and then you can increase the intensity of your workouts.
Get wet. Swimming and water aerobics are ideal workouts if you have asthma. The moist, humid pool environment makes breathing easier.
Opt for warmth. Exercising outdoors in cold, dry air can restrict bronchial tubes, triggering an attack. On days like that, stay indoors. If you absolutely have to exercise outside, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to retain warmth and moisture.
Watch the weather. Stay indoors when air quality is poor or when pollen counts are high. Both of these conditions can make breathing difficult. Also, avoid areas with a lot of traffic.
Get your C. Eat lots of oranges, red peppers, kiwis and other fruits and veggies rich in vitamin C. Studies have shown that this vitamin may reduce asthma attacks in some people.
Cut salt. Preliminary research suggests that a low-sodium diet (no more than 1,500 mg a day) prevents airways from narrowing.