"I no longer let asthma stop me from being active"

Colin Smith avoided exercise for years, before being inspired by Olympic cyclists.

"Back in the 1980s, when I was growing up, there wasn't the sympathy and understanding there is now about asthma - most school teachers just didn't understand the condition. They didn't get why me having asthma meant that I couldn't keep up with the other children in PE."

Avoiding exercise

"For a long time, I wouldn't take part in sport and exercise as much as I could have because I knew that even if I tried I wouldn't have the stamina of other people. I didn't want to fail so I didn't really try."

Building up stamina

"But when my wife, Karen, bought a cross trainer, I decided to use it. I struggled at first but I got better and better on it. I really enjoyed feeling increasingly fit as a result. Then I watched the Olympics 2012 cycling while I was on the cross trainer and decided that was what I wanted to be doing."

Getting on my bike

"A few months later, I bought a bike. I chose a good-quality one as I knew that would mean I'd be more likely to stick with it. The first time I went out, I cycled 11 miles but didn't have the proper gear or a helmet and didn't take any food or drink with me. I came back feeling terrible. But in spring 2013, as the weather got better, I built up surprisingly quickly. I'd set myself little challenges, like aiming to cycle up a hill - if I couldn't get all the way up it one week, I'd go back and try again until I could do it."

Raising money for Asthma UK

"In 2014, I cycled the RideLondonSurrey 100 to raise money for Asthma UK, which was fantastic. The atmosphere was brilliant, although due to the very heavy rain the route was cut from 100 miles to 86 miles. I didn't do as well as I had in training - three days later, the doctor told me I had a chest infection, which I think had started before the ride, so that was why I found it difficult. I'm determined to do it this year and get a better time, and I'm training again now. I've also taken up mountain biking, which I love."

Feeling healthier

"I obviously still have asthma and it is noticeably worse in the winter. But I feel much better now that I'm fit, and I've noticed my reliever inhalers last a lot longer because I don't need to use them as much. Getting fit has also made me more aware of what I put into my body - my diet's better and I don't drink."

Last updated August 2015