Tips for Successfully Managing Your Asthma
Smoking negatively affects your lung function and the effectiveness of your bronchodilators. Smoking not only worsens your asthma symptoms, but also makes it more difficult to exercise.
If you are concerned about giving up smoking due to weight gain, remember that improving your lung function and exercise tolerance will be useful in shifting any extra weight. Research shows that exercise itself can have a positive effect on the reduction of cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms. If you’re worried about exercising with asthma, our specialised page details strategies on exercising with asthma.
You can also take medication to help you quit smoking. Medication to stop smoking must be discussed with your GP or pharmacist who will be able to advise on your suitability.
Being overweight can lead to poorer asthma control and decrease your exercise tolerance. If you have committed to weight loss strategies but have been unsuccessful, visit your GP. Your GP will be able to assess your weight and and give you a body mass index (BMI) score. Improved diet and exercise must always be your first steps to weight loss.
If your weight loss efforts continue to be unsuccessful and your BMI remains above 30 (or above 28 and you have additional risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure), then discuss the use of clinically proven weight loss medications with your GP.
Manage your mental health
You can improve your mental health with exercise and relaxation. If you are feeling highly anxious or depressed, you are not alone. These conditions are prevalent in the asthmatic population.
Try enrolling in a relaxation class where you will be taught breathing techniques. Don’t underestimate the mental health benefits of exercise. Exercise has been proven to help improve stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. The latest research shows that exercising for 1 - 2 hours every week reduces the risk of developing depression by 44% compared with having no regular leisure time physical activity.
Practice a self-management regimen
Monitor your symptoms and record them in a diary. The more you understand about your asthma triggers the better your management will be. Know how to use your inhaler effectively and take it at the appropriate times.
Improve your strength and posture
Try yoga, Pilates or tai chi. Not only will these activities improve your strength and posture, but they can also improve your state of relaxation and give you the opportunity to incorporate your new breathing techniques. Many clubs are available and it may already be included for free if you have a gym membership!
For a free alternative, try books from the library or online resources. If possible, join a club with your partner, a friend, flatmate or family member and motivate each other.
Alternatively, go, have fun, feel great about yourself and make new friends!
Mayor, S. (2017). One to two hours of exercise each week nearly halves long term risk of depression, finds study. BMJ, p. j4534. Available at: http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j4534.full [Accessed: 9 October 2017].
Roberts, V., Maddison, R., Simpson, C. et al. (2012) The acute effects of exercise on cigarette cravings, withdrawal symptoms, affect, and smoking behaviour: systematic review update and meta-analysis. Psychopharmacology222(1), 1-15.
Ussher, M.H., Taylor, A. and Faulkner, G. (2012) Exercise interventions for smoking cessation (Cochrane Review). The Cochrane Library. Issue 1. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. www.thecochranelibrary.com
Written by Rob Davies, Student Physiotherapist