When it’s properly controlled, asthma shouldn’t sideline children from playing sports.
Exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle and team sports have the added bonus of teaching children lessons about the importance of cooperation and perseverance. Being active and playing sports help children stay fit and have fun, but can also strengthen their breathing muscles and help their lungs work better, improving asthma symptoms in the long run.
It may come as a surprise to you, but asthma is actually very common among elite athletes. In fact, asthma is the most common chronic illness among Olympic athletes, with 1 in 12 competitors diagnosed. Interestingly enough, at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where 700 of approximately 10,000 competing athletes had confirmed asthma diagnoses, they were almost twice as likely to win a medal as their non-asthmatic peers.
To put it briefly: an asthma diagnosis shouldn’t keep children from joining the team. Here are 7 tips to keep your child on top of their asthma and on top of their game.
- Listen to the doctor. Heed your doctor’s orders, taking all medications regularly as prescribed.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after practice and games.
- Complete warm-up and cool-down exercises. It is a good idea to warm-up before training for 10 to 15 minutes and to cool-down after for about 10 minutes. to wind
- Breathe through the nose when possible to warm up and moisten inhaled air.
- Avoid illness. Get an annual flu shot and do everything possible to catching seasonal illnesses like the common cold. Wash hands frequently to keep germs at bay.
- Loop in the coach. Make sure the coach knows about your child’s asthma so they understand that your child may need to take breaks to manage flare-ups.
- Find the right sport. Swimming, and sports that require short outburst of activity like baseball, football, short-distance track and field, volleyball, golf, and gymnastics, are less likely to trigger asthma flares than activities that require extended energy output like long distance running, soccer, basketball or hockey. However, with proper training and medication, many athletes find that they can participate in any sport they choose. For example, even though soccer is considered one of the tougher sports for asthmatics, soccer superstar David Beckham has asthma.
Exercise is a common trigger for asthma, but when asthma is managed effectively, exercise can also reduce asthma symptoms, improve lung function, and generally improve quality of health.
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