Prevention for Exercise-Induced Asthma

Prevention for Exercise-Induced Asthma
According to Estrella Reed at, about 13 percent of Americans suffer from exercise induced asthma and about 20 percent of elite U.S. athletes have EIA. Even athletes with no other form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may suffer with EIA. With a little knowledge and an ounce of prevention, this condition can be controlled.

How Exercise Triggers Asthma Attacks

When we're not exercising we tend to breathe through our nose, which warms and humidifies the air to make it like the air in our lungs. When we exercise we breath through our mouths, allowing colder and drier air into the lungs, potentially triggering an asthma attack. Swelling (brochiospasm) occurs, then mucus partially blocks airways. Using a face mask can be useful. Use the link to find some in the Resources section.


According to, unlike other forms of COPD, asthma is reversible but not curable. Using an inhaler as prescribed from your physician prior to exercising helps prevent attacks. Allowing yourself proper time to warm up before you go into heavy breathing during exercise also helps prevent attacks.

Lower Energy Output, Breath Through Nose

When you go out for trail runs, bike rides, snowshoe runs, or other endurance workout, start slow and let the breathing take place as much through the nose as possible. As you slowly bring your exertion levels higher, the transition for the lungs should be easier and help prevent attacks.

Air Temperatures

Many sufferers of exercise induced asthma are sensitive to air temperature, which in turn affects attacks. Using a facial or mouth cover to keep warm air in the lungs in cold weather is an effective means of preventing exercise induced asthma attacks.


Before heading out for those late fall trail runs, winter snowshoe sessions, or cross country ski workouts see your physician and ask about inhalers for EIA. Use it if prescribed, take care to warm up slowly, allowing the warm, moist air to enter your lungs gradually, and you can enjoy your back country workouts asthma free.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.