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Can Kids With Asthma Play Sports?

You probably know that asthma can cause breathing problems. So can kids with asthma play sports? You bet they can! Being active and playing sports is a good idea if you have asthma. Why? Because it can help your lungs get stronger, so they work better.

In fact, some athletes with asthma have done more than develop stronger lungs. They've played professional football and basketball, and they've even won medals at the Olympic Games!

Which Sports Are Best?

Some sports are less likely to bother a person's asthma. Golf and yoga are less likely to trigger flare-ups, and so are sports like baseball, football, and gymnastics.

In some sports, you need to keep going for a long time. These include cycling, long-distance running, soccer, and basketball. Cold, dry air can also make symptoms worse, so cross-country skiing and ice hockey might be hard for people with asthma. But that doesn't mean you can't play these sports if you really like them. In fact, many athletes with asthma have found that with the right training and medicine, they can do any sport they choose.

How Do Athletes Manage Asthma?

Before playing sports, it's important to have your asthma under control. That means you aren't having lots of symptoms or flare-ups. To make this happen, you need to take all asthma medicine just like your doctor tells you to, even when you feel OK.

Your doctor will also tell you some other things you can do to avoid flare-ups, such as:

  • skipping outdoor workouts when there's lots of pollen in the air
  • wearing a scarf or ski mask when you play outside during the winter when it's very cold and dry
  • breathing through your nose instead of your mouth while exercising
  • making sure you always have time for a careful warm up and cool down

Make sure your coach and teammates know about your asthma. That way, they'll understand if you need to stop playing because of breathing trouble. It's also helpful if your coach knows what to do if you have a flare-up.

Listen to your body and follow the instructions your doctor gave you for handling breathing problems. If you keep your asthma in good control, you'll be in the game and not on the sidelines!

Reviewed by: Bonnie B. Hudak, MD
Date reviewed: September 2017

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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