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Can Kids and Teens With Asthma Play Sports?

Can Kids and Teens With Asthma Play Sports?

Sure! Kids and teens with asthma can play sports as long as their asthma is managed and under control.

Being active, working out, and playing sports can help kids with asthma stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. It also can strengthen their breathing muscles to help the lungs work better.

Which Sports Are Better for Kids With Asthma?

Some sports and activities can be better choices for kids with asthma. Golf, yoga, and gentle biking are less likely to trigger asthma flare-ups. Sports like baseball, football, gymnastics, and shorter track and field events can be good choices too.

Some sports can be challenging for kids with asthma. These include endurance sports like long-distance running or cycling or sports that demand a lot of energy without a lot of rest time (like soccer and basketball). Cold-weather sports like cross-country skiing or ice hockey also can be difficult.

But that doesn't mean kids can't do these sports if they truly enjoy them. Many athletes with asthma have found that with proper training and the right dose and use of medicine, they can play any sport they want.

How Can I Manage My Child's Asthma?

To keep asthma under control, it's important that kids take their medicine as prescribed. Skipping long-term control medicine (also called controller or maintenance medicine) can make symptoms worse, and forgetting to take a prescribed medicine before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even ER visits.

Your child should carry quick-relief medicine (also called rescue or fast-acting medicine) at all times, even during workouts, in case of a flare-up.

It's also a good idea to keep triggers in mind. Depending on their triggers, kids with asthma may want to:

  • Skip outdoor workouts when pollen or mold counts are high.
  • Wear a scarf or ski mask when training outside during cold weather.
  • Breathe through the nose instead of the mouth while exercising.
  • Make sure they always have time for a careful warm-up and cool-down.

These recommendations should be included in the asthma action plan you create with your child's doctor.

What Else Should I Know?

Tell the coach about your child's asthma and the asthma action plan. For a young child, you might want to give the coach a copy. Older kids should keep a copy with them, as well as any medicine that could be needed to treat a flare-up.

Most important, your child and the coach need to know when your child should take a break from a practice or game to manage a flare-up before it becomes an emergency.

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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