Miles Weinberger, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary
Exercise limitation is one of the more common results of asthma. This can result in part from persisting obstruction to airways at the time exercise is attempted. More commonly, however, the involuntary muscle surrounding the airway is triggered to contract by the deep breathing occurring during the exercise. This is commonly termed exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasm.
If asthma is otherwise not troublesome or is well-controlled with maintenance medication and pulmonary function is normal or near-normal before exercise, the airway obstruction triggered by exercise is reliably and easily prevented with an inhaled bronchodilator. At least two inhalations of one of the modern generation of inhaled bronchodilators used with proper technique should effectively block this asthmatic airway response to exercise for at least 2 hours.
With prophylactic use of the inhaled hronchodilator, asthmatics can generally take part in all physical activity, including competitive athletics, without limitations imposed by the asthma. In fact, physical exercise is encouraged for asthmatics because physical conditioning itself decreases the patient's susceptibility to exercise-induced asthma.