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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Asthma > Treatment > Management > Exercising with Allergies and Asthma | ACAAI

Exercising with Allergies and Asthma

For more on exercise and asthma, please visit our Allergy and Asthma Podcasts page.

Exercise is an important activity for everyone. Exercise will help people with asthma and other allergy problems.

Is Exercise Recommended for Patients with Allergies and Asthma?

In general, a person with allergies or asthma is usually able to exercise. However, exercise should not be done during times of sickness. Also, no person should push beyond his or her capabilities.

An exercise program should begin carefully. It is a good idea to discuss such a program with your physician before starting.

How Can Symptoms During Exercise Be Prevented?

Patients can often prevent symptoms by taking medication prior to exercising. The type of medication used depends on several factors. For example, people with hay fever might take an antihistamine tablet before exercise.

For people with asthma, an inhaler can be used before exercise to prevent asthma problems. Your physician can recommend the best medication for you to use before exercise.

If you have dust mite allergy, you may want to exercise outdoors to avoid breathing indoor dust. If you are allergic to grasses and weeds, you may want to exercise in an indoor location during certain seasons.

Exercising should be avoided in areas where there are large amounts of chemicals. For example, you should not exercise outdoors near heavy traffic areas with high levels exhaust fumes from cars and trucks. Indoor areas with irritating odors or fumes, also, should be avoided.

What Form of Exercise Is Best for People with Asthma?

For people with asthma, exercise that has stop-and-go activity tends to cause less trouble than exercise involving long periods of running. Swimming seems to be the easiest form of exercise for people with asthma.

Weather conditions also are important. Cold air and very dry air can be quite irritating to the bronchial tubes. Warm, moist air generally allows people with asthma to exercise successfully.

Special Precautions

Special precautions should be taken by people with allergy problems from insect stings. If exercising is done outdoors, people with bee-sting allergy should not wear bright-colored clothing, cologne, perfume, or lotion. They should avoid areas such as flowerbeds and trash cans where bees and wasps like to hide.

In addition, people with severe bee-sting allergy should:

  • wear a medical warning bracelet 
  • carry a syringe filled with adrenaline for emergency treatment 
  • avoid exercise locations far away from hospitals and doctors

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