Exercise as it relates to Disease/Exercise prescription for asthmatics

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Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition caused by hypersensitivity and inflammation of the airways [1] Characteristics of an asthma attack can be coughing, dyspnea, wheezing and chest tightness. Symptoms can occur one at a time or all at once, most acute attacks occur with a sense of panic.[2] Asthmatics have triggers which will set of asthma attacks, with each individual triggers will vary as will the severity. Exercise Induced Asthma can be triggered by aerobic exercise by the constriction/ inflammation of bronchioles which may lead to chest tightness, wheezing and fatigue.[3]


In 2008 it was reported that 10% of Australians were living with asthma. Mortality rates due to Asthma in 2008 was 449, however compared to the period of 1989-2006 there has been a 69% decrease in mortality rates.[1] Exercise Induced Asthma occurs in 90% of chronic asthma sufferers.[3]

Preparing for Exercise[edit]

Just because you may suffer from asthma that doesn’t mean it should stop you from enjoying the many benefits of exercise.[4] Some simple but effective tips that may help the delay/ onset of Exercise Induced asthma can be: 1) Use your asthma reliever medication around five to ten minutes before you warm up Speak to your doctor for advice [5] 2) Warm up with light exercise and stretching for 10 to 15 minutes before you play sport or exercise[5] 3) Drink water before, during and after exercise Chronic illness: The exercise prescription[5] 4) Always cool down[5] 5) Make sure asthma medication is always near by[5]

Exercising with Asthma[edit]

Sports medicine Australia have released guidelines that best benefit asthma sufferers. Asthmatics should exercises 3-5 sessions a week, each session should last between 20–60 minutes. Swimming is also encouraged, it provides excellent benefits for the cardio respiratory system.[6] and because of the high humidity near the water it will help prevent an attack.[5]

Exercise prescription[edit]

Before starting a training program it is essential you consult with your Doctor. Exercise prescription will vary depending on what outcome you want to achieve. The program below will show a typical program to keep patients activated and healthy.

Aerobic Exercise[edit]

When asthma is controlled, patients aren’t limited to intensities or durations of exercise compared to non-asthma sufferers in their age group.[7] In accordance with the guidelines with Sports Medicine Australia[6] two aerobic exercises in the program will be an interval session on a treadmill and a distance swim in the pool.

Resistance Training[edit]

[8] Intenisty should be 60%-70% 1RM which is the maximal amount of resistance that can be lifted through the entire range of motion.[9] Exercise and sports science Australia use the guidelines of two sessions a week with sets of three and between eight to twelve repetitions.

Exercise Program[edit]

Monday- Chest + Triceps; Incline dumbbell bench press, close grip flat bench triceps extension, decline barbell bench press and cable tricep pull down. Tuesday- Swimming; 800m-1000m swim at moderate intensity. Wednesday- Legs and shoulders; Barbell back squat, incline dumbbell press, leg press, barbell military press, dumbbell walking lunge and deltoid lateral raises. Thursday- Back and Biceps: Wide grip assisted pull-ups, preacher curls, deadlift, latissimus dorsi pull downs, hammer curls, seated row and one armed bicep isolate curl. Friday- Treadmill run; 6X300m at 70%-85% intensity with a work to rest ratio 1:2 Saturday- Rest Sunday- Rest

  • It is important for every session to have adequate warm up and cool down. Warm up should consist of 5-10 mins of a slow jog then into a run followed by dynamic stretching. A cool down should be a jog into a slow walk followed by some static stretching.


Before partaking in an exercise program, it is important to make sure patients are properly in control of their asthma before becoming more physically active. Understanding external triggers and how to cope with asthma will benefit the patients during the program. Patients should also avoid exercising in the excessive cold or environments with known asthma triggers[7]

Suggested Readings[edit]

Sports Medicine Australia, Asthma Management, Asthma Australia


  1. a b . Asthma Australia. (2011). Asthma. Retrieved from http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au.html.
  2. . Hoehn, K, Marieb, E. (2009). Human Anatomy & Physiiology. Pearson International Editors
  3. a b Cinahl, D, DeVesty, T, Pravikoff, G, (2013) Asthma, Exercise-InducedSchub Information Systems
  4. Guidlines. (2012) Guildines. Retrived from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
  5. a b c d e f Consumer reports on Health, (1997, Chronic illnes: The exercise prescription.
  6. a b . Sports Medicine Australia. Retrieved from htpp://www.sma.org.au
  7. a b . Eves, N. (2011). Evidence based risk assessment and recommendations for physical activity: respiratory diseases
  8. . Weight guideline. (2012) Retrieved from http://exerciseismedicine.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Asthma-Exercise.pdf
  9. Carpinelli, R. (2011). Assessment of 1RM: Are they really necessary.Vol. 15. Issue 2, p91.