Whether jogging, skiing or skating, enthusiastic exercisers don't let the frigid temperatures of winter keep them indoors. But for millions of Americans with asthma, the cold weather can literally stop them in their tracks.
According to Dr. Abraham Sanders, a pulmonologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, "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 or pneumonia. Adding exercise to the mix can mean even more trouble."
"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. Sanders offers the following tips when exercising in winter:
- Always wear a scarf over your mouth and nose to warm the air before you breathe in.
- Warm up with stretching and light activity before exercising, shoveling or beginning more strenuous physical activities. Also, make sure to cool down.
- Take all medication as prescribed, even if you feel fine.
- If it's too cold or icy, head inside for mall walking or another activity.
- When exercising indoors, be sure that the room is well-humidified and ventilated.
- Dress in layers. Layering clothes underneath a windproof and waterproof outer shell helps maintain body heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Your body needs fluids during cold weather, too. Try carrying a water bottle.
- If you've been sedentary or have health problems, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.