Winter exercise advice from Asthma UK

Responding to a journalist enquiry on how people with asthma can safely exercise in cold weather, Emma Rubach, Head of Health Advice at Asthma UK, says: “Regular exercise can have many benefits for people with asthma. It boosts lung power and supports the immune system, helping in the fight against colds and viruses.

“Cold air is a trigger for more than 3 million people with asthma*, putting them at risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. As temperatures plunge, asthma symptoms like coughing and wheezing are even more likely during exercise. This is because cold, dry air can irritate already sensitive airways.

“If you have asthma that is triggered by cold air, but you want to keep exercising during the winter months, you could avoid the problem by exercising indoors, trying activities such as badminton or yoga. Or, consider doing less vigorous exercise if you’d like to be outside – go for a power walk instead of a run, for example.

“Another helpful tip is to make sure your chest and throat is covered and keep a scarf around your nose – this helps warm up the air, so it’s less likely to set off your symptoms.

“It’s natural to worry that exercising might set off your symptoms, especially in the cold, so it’s important to keep taking your preventer inhaler (usually brown) as prescribed and to ask your GP or asthma nurse to support you. For more information on getting active when you have asthma, visit www.asthma.org.uk/advice/living-with-asthma/exercise-and-activities

Notes to Editors:

*In Asthma UK’s Annual Asthma Survey 2019 we surveyed 12,876 people with asthma across the UK. 59% said their asthma was triggered by cold air. To estimate that around 3 million people in the UK could find cold air affect their asthma, we applied this proportion onto the total number of people in the UK with asthma which is 5.4 million to get 3.186 million.