Can Kids and Teens With Asthma Play Sports?

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Parents

You might remember a time when kids with asthma were discouraged from playing sports and told to take it easy. That's no longer the case. Being active, working out, and playing sports not only help kids with asthma stay fit, maintain a healthy weight, and have fun but also can strengthen their breathing muscles and help the lungs work better.

For these reasons, your doctor may recommend exercise as part of your child's asthma treatment plan. If you have doubts about whether sports and asthma mix, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that asthma affects more than 20% of elite athletes and 1 in every 6 Olympic athletes.

Game On!

Two important things that kids who have asthma should know about sports participation:

  1. Their asthma must be under control in order for them to play sports properly.
  2. When their asthma is well controlled, they can — and should — be active and play sports just like anyone else.

Of course, some sports are less likely to pose problems than others for people with asthma. Swimming, leisurely biking, and walking are less likely to trigger asthma flare-ups, as are sports that require short bursts of activity like baseball, football, gymnastics, and shorter track and field events.

Endurance sports, like long-distance running and cycling, and sports like soccer and basketball, which require extended energy output, may be more challenging. This is especially true for cold-weather sports like cross-country skiing or ice hockey. But that doesn't mean kids can't participate in these sports if they truly enjoy them. In fact, many athletes with asthma have found that, with proper training and medication, they can participate in any sport they choose.

Staying in the Game

To keep asthma under control, it's important that kids take their medicine as prescribed. Skipping controller medication can make symptoms worse, and forgetting to take a prescribed medication before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even emergency department visits.

Your child should carry rescue medication at all times, even during workouts, in case of a flare-up.

It's also a good idea to keep triggers in mind. Depending on their triggers, kids with asthma may want to:

  • Skip outdoor workouts when pollen or mold counts are high.
  • Wear a scarf or ski mask when training outside during the winter.
  • Breathe through the nose instead of the mouth while exercising.
  • Make sure they always have time for a careful warm up and cool down.

These recommendations should be included in the asthma action plan you create with your child's doctor.

Also make sure that the coach knows about your child's asthma and the asthma action plan. For a young child, you might want to provide the coach with a copy. Older kids should keep a copy with them, as well as any medication that could be needed to treat a flare-up.

Most important, your child and the coach need to understand when it's time for your child to take a break from a practice or game so that flare-ups can be managed before they become emergencies.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010



Related Resources

OrganizationNational Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) The NHLBI provides the public with educational resources relating to the treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases as well as sleep disorders.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.
OrganizationAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The ACAAI is an organization of allergists-immunologists and health professionals dedicated to quality patient care. Contact them at: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
85 W. Algonquin Road
Suite 550 Arlington Heights, IL 60005
(800) 842-7777
OrganizationAmerican Lung Association The mission of this group is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Contact the group at: American Lung Association
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10006
(212) 315-8700
OrganizationAllergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AAN-MA) Through education, advocacy, community outreach, and research, AAN-MA hopes to eliminate suffering and fatalities due to asthma and allergies. AAN-MA offers news, drug recall information, tips, and more for treating allergies and asthma. Call: (800) 878-4403


Related Articles

Asthma Center Asthma keeps more kids home from school than any other chronic illness. Learn how to help your child manage the condition, stay healthy, and stay in school.
Handling an Asthma Flare-Up Because they can be life threatening, asthma flare-ups can and should be treated at their earliest stages. So it's important to recognize their early warning signs.
Asthma and Teens The teen years can be rough for kids, and they can be even rougher for teens with?asthma. These tips can make parenting a teen with asthma a bit easier.
Dealing With Asthma Triggers Triggers - substances, weather conditions, or activities - can lead to flare-ups in kids with asthma. By knowing and avoiding triggers, you'll help minimize your child's asthma symptoms.
Exercise-Induced Asthma Many kids with asthma have symptoms when they exercise. But with careful management, they usually can do anything their peers can do.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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