How To Breathe When Running With Asthma

How to Breathe When Running with Asthma

Running is a great way to stay fit and healthy, but it can be challenging for individuals with asthma. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Despite these challenges, it is still possible for individuals with asthma to enjoy the benefits of running by learning how to breathe properly. In this article, we will explore some strategies to help you breathe comfortably while running with asthma.

1. Warm Up Properly

Before starting your run, it is essential to warm up properly. Warming up helps prepare your lungs and airways for exercise, reducing the risk of an asthma attack. Begin with a gentle walk or light jog for 5-10 minutes to get your blood flowing and your breathing rate up. This gradual increase in intensity allows your lungs to adjust and reduces the likelihood of sudden breathing difficulties.

2. Use Your Medication

If you are prescribed medication for your asthma, make sure to take it as directed before your run. Medications such as short-acting bronchodilators can help open up your airways, making it easier to breathe while running. Consult with your doctor to ensure you are using the right medication and dosage for your specific needs.

3. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, involves using your diaphragm instead of your chest muscles to inhale and exhale. This technique allows for deeper breaths and can help increase oxygen flow to your lungs. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, lie on your back and place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise, and exhale through your mouth. Gradually incorporate this technique into your running routine for improved breathing efficiency.

4. Find Your Rhythm

Establishing a breathing rhythm while running can help you maintain a steady airflow and conserve energy. One common technique is the 2:2 rhythm, where you inhale for two steps and exhale for two steps. Experiment with different breathing patterns to find what works best for you. Some individuals may prefer a longer inhale and a shorter exhale, while others may find a 3:3 rhythm more comfortable. Listen to your body and adjust your breathing as needed.

5. Pace Yourself

Running at a moderate pace can help prevent asthma symptoms from worsening. Pushing yourself too hard and running at an intense pace can lead to shortness of breath and increased wheezing. Start at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed as your fitness improves. Remember, it’s not about how fast you run but about maintaining a steady and comfortable breathing pattern throughout your run.

6. Avoid Triggering Factors

Identifying and avoiding potential triggers that may worsen your asthma symptoms is crucial. Common triggers include cold air, pollen, pollution, or certain types of exercise. If cold air triggers your symptoms, consider wearing a scarf or face mask to warm up the air before it enters your lungs. If running outdoors during high pollen or pollution levels aggravates your asthma, try exercising indoors or at different times when these triggers are less prevalent.

7. Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is vital for individuals with asthma, as it helps thin mucus in your airways and keeps your respiratory system functioning optimally. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your run to stay hydrated. Avoid caffeinated or sugary beverages, as they can have a dehydrating effect on your body.

8. Listen to Your Body

It is essential to pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your running routine accordingly. If you start experiencing symptoms such as tightness in the chest, coughing, or wheezing, it may be a sign that you need to slow down or take a break. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to a severe asthma attack. Remember, it’s better to be cautious and prioritize your health over pushing yourself too hard.


1. Can I still run if I have asthma?

Yes, individuals with asthma can still participate in running and other forms of exercise. However, it is essential to take precautions and learn how to manage your asthma symptoms effectively. Consulting with your doctor and following their recommendations is crucial.

2. When is the best time to run with asthma?

The best time to run with asthma may vary for each individual. Some find that running in the morning when pollen and pollution levels are lower works best for them. Others may prefer exercising in the evening or indoors. Listen to your body and choose a time that feels comfortable for you.

3. Can breathing techniques really help improve my running with asthma?

Yes, practicing proper breathing techniques can significantly improve your running experience with asthma. Techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and establishing a breathing rhythm can help optimize your lung function and make running more comfortable.

4. Is it safe to run during an asthma attack?

No, it is not safe to run during an asthma attack. During an attack, your airways narrow significantly, making it difficult to breathe. It is crucial to stop and use your rescue inhaler as prescribed by your doctor. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention immediately.

5. Should I avoid running altogether if my asthma is severe?

If you have severe asthma, it is essential to work closely with your doctor to determine the best exercise routine for you. Running may not be suitable for everyone with severe asthma, but alternative forms of exercise, such as swimming or cycling, may be more suitable. Always consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.


Running with asthma may present some challenges, but with the right strategies and precautions, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of this exercise. Warming up properly, using your medication as prescribed, practicing diaphragmatic breathing, finding your rhythm, pacing yourself, avoiding triggering factors, staying hydrated, and listening to your body are all essential components of managing your asthma while running. Keep in mind that everyone’s asthma is different, so it’s important to work closely with your doctor to develop an individualized plan that meets your specific needs. Stay active, stay healthy, and enjoy the benefits of running with asthma.

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