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Can Kids and Teens With Asthma Play Sports?

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

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.

Many athletes with asthma find 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 for kids to take their medicine as prescribed. If the doctor prescribed a medicine to use every day to ease inflammation and prevent symptoms, your child should keep taking it, even if they feel fine. Skipping daily anti-inflammatory medicines (called long-term control, controller, or maintenance medicine) can make symptoms worse.

Some kids and teens with exercise-induced asthma need to take medicine about 15–30 minutes before exercising or playing a sport to prevent symptoms while they're active. If they forget to do this, they risk having a flare-up and sometimes even needing care in the ER.

Your child should have the medicine used for quick symptom relief (called quick-relief, rescue, or fast-acting medicine) with them 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.

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2024