Working Out with Asthma…Is It Safe?
As an athlete I’m always trying to improve my performance in any activity I choose to do. Over the years I have done a lot of physically demanding sports that require major focus, coordination and balance. Road biking was a favorite activity of mine for many years. Yes I wore the outfit and had the shoes. So what if the bike frame was the largest the company built… and so what that my shoes had to be custom ordered. It was exhilarating and challenging all at once. It had speed bumps and potholes. Traffic and buses to maneuver through while trying to balance my bike while waiting for red light to turn green. One word…hills! I loved the hills. Super inclines, steep roads, downhill switchbacks. The adrenaline rush was almost overpowering but the intense sweating of grinding through a hot summer day while looping Griffith Park gives me goosebumps now and I wanna ride. But, I can’t. My best friend told me so. Apologies to my wife but I’ve been in a relationship with somebody else for a very long time. SURPRISE! Asthma. My long time secret crush is Asthma. I’ve had asthma for as long as I can remember. I’m envisioning jr high and the trouble I had with running the mile around the field while the coach yelled at me to go faster as I was gasping for air. Tightness in my chest . The strain to get enough air into my lungs. Nightmares…
After road biking for 8 years I finally had to take an extended break due to the pollution from the cars and buses that I rode with in traffic. I also felt that as I would ride through neighborhoods that had major flowers and plants I could feel an attack coming on. As I would hill climb and cars zoomed by I would get the exhaust in my mouth and lungs and it hurt to breathe. After doing a few breathing treatments after each ride I had to reach the final answer and I knew it would totally suck. I needed to stop riding to save my lungs. I usually would take a puff of my inhaler before each ride to protect my asthma and it began to turn into me using the inhaler more and more frequently and that’s when I realized my time had come. Nothing lasts forever!
One thing that I did notice was that when I kept lifting weights and doing exercise circuits that my asthma was much more in control. Short bursts of exercise followed by periods of rest. Repeat. Again and again. But no need for my inhaler. It was becoming clear that doing a modified HIIT program would allow me to workout just as hard as ever but still make room for my good friend asthma and keep it under control. As my riding days were coming to a close, I knew I needed a new challenge to hold my attention and I found the perfect combination of self defense and circuit training mixed into one system. Krav Maga. It means ” contact combat”. It also meant that I would learn how to defend myself in a fight and having the confidence that my asthma wouldn’t be an issue. Boxing drills lasted only mere minutes and then a rest period. Wrestling drills allowed me to work on positions and arm locks but I could still rest even though somebody had the top position. Then time would end and a rest period. As I continued this type of training I was becoming more and more in shape and was really starting to not use my inhaler as much. I could breathe easier throughout the day. Hallelujah!!
I currently take a few different medications to control my asthma and some days are good, some days are average. Listening to my body is an essential piece of my training and on days that I know are not great for me from a breathing standpoint I pull back and rest. Most people don’t really understand the benefits of resting but I contend that rest days are just as important as training days because the body actually recovers on non training days. Good sleep is just as important as setting a new PR in the gym. Let’s wrap it up! If you have asthma I feel for you. I live with it 24 hours a day and it never goes away. Listen to how your body responds to new surroundings and make the adjustments to insure success. If you need stronger meds than go to the dr. If you want to give the circuit routines a try then do it and write down how your asthma reacted. A good journal is invaluable and a true indicator of performance.
Let’s get it done!