Asthmatics Can Play Winter Sports Too!

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asthma tips

Just because you have asthma, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy winter sports…

Being an asthma sufferer for most of my life, I’ve gone through just about every kind of treatment ever known. I’ve been hospitalized and placed in oxygen tents as a child, and given adrenaline shots along with some foul-tasting drugs. In case you’re not aware, the symptoms range from wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, to shortness of breath.

Cold winter air is not the ideal condition for asthmatics. In fact, it can be a challenge for even the healthiest person,as the air must be moist for us to breathe properly. Exercise-induced asthma can affect even those who do not normally suffer from the condition. A University of New Mexico study found that 19% of ice hockey players were diagnosed with asthma and 11.5% with exercise-induced asthma (EIA).

Here are top “10 commandments” to follow to keep on top of your asthma, especially during the winter:

1. Doctor’s orders: I faithfully follow the advice of my doctor, taking all medications as prescribed.

2. Take two: Before I enjoy my winter sport, I have two puffs of a bronchodilator. This keeps my airways open.

3. Warm up: Pre-exercise warm-ups are essential. I start slowly to gradually get my heart rate up and the oxygen-rich blood pumping to my lungs.

4. Through the nose: As much as possible, I take full breaths and try to breathe through my nose. This way, the air I take in is moister than that which I get through my mouth.

5. Avoid overexertion: In the cold, I am mindful of pushing myself too hard to avoid overtaxing my body.

6. Drink up: I’m always careful to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising in cold weather.

7. Shots: During flu season, I make sure to get a flu shot.

8. The common cold: I do everything possible to avoid catching a cold. Like many asthmatics, I’m allergic to my own mucous. Besides the obvious tactic of doing my best to avoid contact with anyone who has a cold, I make sure I wash my hands frequently to keep those cold germs at bay.

9. Rest up: Getting the proper amount of rest is critical. It keeps my immune system in top form.

10. Take a breather: If I find myself getting out of breath, I take a minute or two to allow my body to recover.

You know your own body better than anyone. If your symptoms are such that you’re struggling for each breath—or even if you just feel generally lousy—stay home and rest. Of course, if you find yourself having problems managing your asthma, see a doctor. With proper diagnosis and treatment, asthma can be controlled. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy a normal life, on or off the ice.


Warren Tabachnick is the Editor & Publisher of CrossIceHockey.com – For the Recreational Hockey Player. He has been suffering from asthma and allergies since he was 4 years old. He manages to keep his condition under control and enjoy a decent quality of life.

Resources:For more information, please refer to the following:
1. “Exercise-Induced Asthma” (The Cleveland Clinic):
2. “Exercise and Asthma” (WebMD):
3. “Why Do So Many Winter Olympians Have Asthma?” 


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