November 27, 2004

Asthmatics Take Care in Cold Winter Air

HealthDayNews -- It's great to be active in the winter, but exercising in cold weather can cause problems for people with asthma.

"It's crucial that all asthmatics know about possible triggers. For active men and women, it means being aware of the potential dangers of cold weather exercise," Dr. Abraham Sanders, a pulmonologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, said in a prepared statement.

"Winter is already a difficult time for asthmatics because of the increased incidence of colds and flu, which can evolve into more serious conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Adding exercise to the mix can mean even more trouble," Sander said.

He offers some advice for asthmatics who enjoy outdoor winter exercise:

Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose in order to warm air before you breathe it in.

Stretch and do other light activity to warm up before you exercise, shovel or do any other form of strenuous physical activity. Be sure to cool down when you're done your activity.

Take all medications as prescribed, even if you feel fine.

If it's especially cold or icy outdoors, consider going to a mall or other indoor location to do some walking or other activity.

When you exercise indoors, make sure the room is well humidified and ventilated.

When exercising outdoors, dress in layers. This will help you better manage your body heat.

Drink plenty of fluids.

If you've been sedentary or have health problems, check with your doctor before you begin any kind of exercise program.

More information

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has more about exercise-induced asthma.

SOURCE: New York-Presbyterian Hospital, news release, November 2004