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Can People with Asthma Play Sports?

Asthma and Athletes

People with asthma can do more than play sports: They can excel at them. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, asthma affects more than 20% of elite athletes, and 1 in every 6 Olympic athletes.

Even if you don't want to be a professional athlete, you can benefit from being active and playing sports. It will keep you fit, help you stay at a healthy weight, and even strengthen the breathing muscles in your chest. If you have asthma, this is especially important because it can help your lungs work better.

Sports have some fantastic emotional benefits, too: Exercising causes the body to produce endorphins, chemicals in the body that lead a person to feel more peaceful and happy. Exercise can help some people sleep better. It can also help with mental health issues such as mild depression: People who feel strong and powerful can see themselves in a better light.

Which Sports Are Best?

Some sports are not as likely to cause problems for people with asthma. Golf, yoga, and leisurely biking are less likely to trigger asthma flare-ups. Sports like baseball, football, gymnastics, and shorter track and field events tend to be good for people with asthma, too.

Endurance sports, like long-distance running and cycling, and those that require high energy output without a lot of rest time, like soccer and basketball, may be more challenging for people with asthma. This is especially true for cold-weather sports like cross-country skiing or ice hockey.

But that doesn't mean you can't participate in these sports if you 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.

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