Adventure sports

If your asthma is well-controlled and you're fit and healthy why not try an adventure sport?

If you’re planning anything that fits into the extreme sports or adventure category, such as bungee jumping or skiing, you need to make sure you’re as physically fit as you can be beforehand. 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 keep your airways clear
  • booking an appointment with your GP or asthma nurse so they 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.
  • downloading a written asthma action plan and filling it in with your GP or asthma nurse. If you already have one, make sure it's up to date so you know exactly what to do if you do get symptoms.

Top tips:

  • Don’t forget to make sure your insurance covers whatever activity you’re planning.
  • Always have your reliever inhaler with you, whatever exercise you do.
  • Make sure you’ve got have enough reliever medicine with you, especially if you’re travelling.

Parachuting, bungee jumping, skydiving...

Always consult your GP before jumping off or out of anything! 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 half an hour before the activity.
  • If you’ve been on high dose steroids for your asthma this can affect your bone density score. If yours is low its best not to jump because of the risk of fractures.

Scuba-diving

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 stress).

Regulations about scuba-diving for people with asthma vary from country to country, so check before you make any travel plans. The British Sub-Aqua Club 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 10 per cent 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.

Mountaineering and skiing

The good news is if you have allergic asthma, mountain air can come as a relief - there are no allergens in high altitude air so you might notice an improvement in a mountain environment.

However, mountain air is cold and dry and this, and the high altitude, can make people short of breath. If you have asthma it could trigger asthma symptoms or even an asthma attack, especially if you’re climbing or skiing.

You can lower the risk if you:

  • carry your reliever inhaler with you (usually blue) in your jacket 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.

Top tips:

  • Keep any asthma medicines warm and dry.
  • 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 what to do to keep yourself safe.
  • Make sure the people you’re climbing with know you have asthma.

Fancy a challenge?

Signing up for an Asthma UK event can push your fitness to a higher level, and you'll be raising money at the same time to help more people with asthma.

Last updated November 2016

Next update due November 2019