Can People with Asthma Run?

June 13, 2022
Andrew Gallagher
4 Min Read

Running with Asthma

If you have asthma, one of the best things you can do for your health is to start running or exercising. Strengthening your lungs and muscles helps improve your breathing.

However, exercise can sometimes worsen your asthma symptoms, this is known is as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) or exercise-induced asthma. This means that many people with asthma are rightfully nervous to try running. But you’ll be glad to know that it’s possible to run safely with asthma.

Before starting a running routine, make sure your asthma is well controlled. Your doctor can help you manage your asthma before you hit the pavement.

Why would I run ?

You might be wondering why anyone with asthma would want to start running. After all, running can worsen asthma symptoms in some people. But for many people with asthma, running can actually help improve their breathing.

Running strengthens the whole respiratory system by strengthening lung function and diaphragm muscle strength — two important parts of keeping airways open.

In a 2018 study, researchers determined that physical activity could improve lung function in people with asthma. It can also slow down the decline of lung function, which normally happens with age.

Besides, running can be an extremely enjoyable past time and can help you improve general fitness that helps in day-to-day life.

How to Prepare for Your Run

If you have asthma, it's important to take some precautions before starting a running routine.

  • You should consult with your doctor. They can provide safety tips and precautions based on the severity and type of your asthma.
  • Carry your phone and rescue inhaler in a running pouch.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • If you’re running in cold weather, wear a scarf around your mouth and nose to prevent cold-induced asthma.
  • Check the pollen and air pollution levels.
  • If you’re running alone, let a friend know where you’ll be running.
  • Carry a medical tag or card, if you have one.
  • Plan your route so you can avoid busy, polluted roads.
  • Start very slow and easy.
  • Take your rescue inhaler 15 minutes before running or as directed by your doctor.

5 Tips for running with asthma

Know your asthma action plan

Your asthma action plan will include measures to help you deal with symptoms when they come on. It also might include the signs of when you need to take your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler contains medicine that rapidly opens the airways.

Also, ask your doctor what to do if you’re running without an inhaler and have an asthma attack. They can discuss breathing exercises and signs you need emergency help.

Check the air quality & Weather

If you are triggered by pollen check the days pollen count.

Air pollution can trigger asthma. Avoid running on busy roads, and near traffic/industrial areas, this should lower your exposure to pollution.

If there is either pollen or air pollution and they could affect your running with asthma, you should either rest or run on an indoor treadmill or track.

Generally, in the summer,  running earlier is better as it is milder. Pollen and air pollution levels are usually lower in the mornings.

Warm up and cool down

During warm up exercise, begin walking slowly and slowly increase activity or speed over 3-5 minutes. Slowly cooling down for 5 to 10 minutes after exercising can help prevent asthma symptoms that might start after exercising.

Cover your mouth and nose

Some people with asthma are particularly sensitive to cold dry air, this can cause constriction in their airways. If it is cold outside, wrap your mouth and nose with a scarf. This helps warm the air as your breathe it in.

Leave your ego out of it

Start at a low intensity, start slow. You can increase your speed over time. As your body gets used to running, you can begin to run faster with asthma.

Take frequent breaks, as many as required.

Run shorter distances and stop when necessary. This will make it easier to run more regularly, which can help increase your lung capacity over time.

Can you be a good runner with asthma?

If you have asthma, you may be wondering if you can still be a good runner. With patience using these strategies outlined above you will become a good runner. There are many famous athletes who manage asthma and still compete at a high level. These athletes include Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and famous footballer David Beckham

In fact, it has recently been reported that the condition is more common among elite athletes (especially those competing in endurance activities) - around 21 to 25% of top performers suffer from asthma, compared to 9 to 10% within the general population.


If you have asthma, don't let it stop you from running. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions and gradually increase your running intensity and duration over time. With patience and adherence to these tips, you can become a good runner with asthma.


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