Fancy trying out skiing, scuba-diving or even bungee jumping? You might be worried that your asthma will get in the way of extreme or adventure sports, but as long as it’s well controlled and you know your triggers, it’s safe to give them a go.
If you’re planning to take part in an extreme or adventure sport, it’s important to make sure you’re physically fit. This includes making sure your asthma is well controlled.
The best way to do this is by:
- continuing to take your preventer medicines as prescribed to reduce the inflammation in your airways
- making sure you have an asthma review every year, so your GP or asthma nurse can review your medicines, make sure you’re taking your inhalers in the right way, and check your peak flow. They can also check how you’re doing generally.
- using a written asthma action plan. Make sure yours is up to date so you know what to do if you get symptoms. If you don't already have one, download one here and fill it in with your GP or asthma nurse.
- Don’t forget to make sure your travel insurance covers whatever activity you’re planning, and check if there are any safety restrictions or rules with the organiser of the activity.
- Always have your reliever inhaler with you, whatever exercise you do.
- Make sure you’ve got enough reliever medicine with you, especially if you’re travelling.
Always consult your GP before taking part in these activities. Medical advice is available from the British Parachute Association.
As a general rule, if you have asthma you can parachute jump, bungee jump or skydive if:
- your asthma is well controlled (you have no symptoms and your peak flow score is within your normal range)
- cold air doesn’t trigger your asthma
- exercise doesn’t trigger your asthma.
What you need to know:
- You may not have access to your inhalers when you jump.
- It’s recommended you take your reliever inhaler up to an hour before the activity.
- Taking steroids for your asthma can affect your bone density score and increase the risk of fractures. If you’ve been taking steroids for three months or more, you can ask your GP to refer you for a bone density scan to see if you’re at greater risk of breaking a bone.
Medical experts recognise that people with well controlled asthma can go scuba-diving, although it’s important to remember that when you dive you’re exposed to things that can trigger asthma symptoms in some people (cold air, exercise, and heightened emotions).
Regulations about scuba-diving for people with asthma vary from country to country, so check before you make any travel plans. The UK Diving Medical Committee says if you have mild asthma you can dive if:
- you do not have asthma that’s triggered by cold, exercise, stress or emotion
- your asthma is well controlled
- you haven’t needed to use a reliever inhaler or had any asthma symptoms in the previous 48 hours
- your peak flow is within 15% of your best value for at least 48 hours before diving
- you can comfortably complete an exercise test set by the diving club
- you take your reliever inhaler before diving.
If you have allergic asthma, mountain air may come as a relief - asthma triggers like allergens and air pollution tend to be lower in high altitude air so you might notice an improvement in a mountain environment.
However, the high altitude can make some people short of breath. Mountain air is cold and dry and could trigger asthma symptoms, especially if you’re doing an activity like climbing or skiing.
You can lower the risk if you:
- carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) in your pocket at all times and make sure you have a good supply of asthma medicines with you
- continue to take your preventer medicines exactly as prescribed
- make an appointment to see your GP to update your written asthma action plan before you travel.
Medical advice on mountaineering at high altitudes is available from the British Mountaineering Council.
- Keep any asthma medicines warm and dry, for example in your pocket
- If you’re going above 3,000 metres you might need to increase your dose – talk to your GP before you go so you’re prepared and know how to keep yourself safe.
- Make sure the people you’re climbing with know you have asthma and what to do if you get symptoms.
Fancy a challenge?
Signing up for an Asthma UK event can push your fitness to a higher level, and you'll be raising money to help more people with asthma at the same time.
Need more advice?
Call our specialist asthma nurses on 0300 222 5800 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or chat to them on WhatsApp (07378 606728).
Last updated November 2019
Next update due November 2022