My grade-school son, who we just learned has asthma, wants to try a new sport. We’ve been told that his medication will prevent any breathing problems during exercise, but we still worry. Can you recommend an asthma-friendly activity for my son?
With most sports, the cold, dry air that your son breathes in can make him wheeze. When swimming however, your son would be taking in warm, moist air – so he’s less likely to have breathing problems. That’s why swimming is such an ideal sport for children with asthma. Look at 20-year-old Tom Dolan: Even though he was suffering from severe asthma, he won America’s first Olympic gold medal for the 400-meter swimming competition.
Don’t worry too much about your son and his sports. Not all children with asthma have breathing problems during exercise, and inhaled medication used just before exercise helps those who do. Also, your son may adapt well to certain sports: Football – because it’s not sustained exercise – doesn’t bother asthma sufferers as much as long-distance running. And warm air can even ease the wheezing during endurance exercise: My husband, who has asthma, likes to run in heat and humidity. Even I can’t bear that!
It’s great that your son is being encouraged to pursue an interest in sports. Regular exercise is important for all children, and for children with a chronic illness, it helps them to feel good about themselves and competent about their abilities.