Approximately six million American children have asthma. Though the condition often requires lifestyle modifications, children with asthma don’t have to sit on the sidelines.
"One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that children with asthma can’t exercise at all," said Gwen Kerby, MD, director of the Asthma Management Program at the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado. "Limiting exercise isn’t the correct course of action – effectively managing asthma is the key to helping children stay healthy."
Create a plan
A primary element of asthma management should be the development of an exercise plan. With the help of your child’s primary provider, parents and children can create a program of activities that will be less likely to trigger asthma symptoms.
"Symptoms like wheezing indicate that asthma is not well-controlled," Dr. Kerby said. "The truth is that the majority of children who have their asthma under control can do whatever they want with the right exercise plan."
Less exercise = more health problems
One of the most troubling medical headlines today is the dramatic increase in childhood obesity. Propelling this epidemic is an overall decrease in physical activity, and as a result, many children with asthma aren’t getting the exercise they need.
Asthma sufferers who get limited exercise are more likely to become obese. The cycle is then continued because obesity can further complicate asthma symptoms by putting additional stress on airway function.
Get in the game
Although every individual has specific symptom triggers, team sports that require short energy bursts – such as baseball, gymnastics and football – tend to be more compatible with asthma sufferers than endurance sports like soccer or long distance running.
Through our Asthma Management Program, children experiencing asthma symptoms can undergo necessary testing to determine their levels of lung functioning, which can identify appropriate levels of activity to keep symptoms under control and avoid complications. After an expert at Children’s Colorado reviews test results, a plan can be developed so children can take part in daily exercise activities.
"All children need to exercise," Dr. Kerby said. "It is our job to create a plan that accommodates each asthma patient."
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