Exercise for asthmatics can be beneficial but the irony is that exercise itself can at times induce an asthma attack. Those individuals with a family history or allergic asthma are at an increased risk to develop symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing or tightness in the chest following physical exercise. The symptoms begin 5-20 minutes after you begin an exercise. This could be because of sensitive airways reacting to sudden temperature and humidity, presence of allergens in the environment or if you have a viral respiratory tract infection.
Walking or cycling are good exercises for those suffering from asthma. Certain activities such as golf, short track and field events or gymnastics, which are intermittent, are less likely to worsen the ailment. For children and youngsters, sports such as football, squash, hockey, long distance running, etc. can cause a problem. Swimming is the best choice for asthmatics or anyone who suffers from wheezing or bronchospasm (difficult breathing). This is because swimming helps tone up the upper body muscles that aid in respiration. The horizontal position while you swim moves mucus away and reduces airway congestion.
A warm-up before you begin your exercise can help reduce the tightness in chest. Following a strenuous exercise, a ‘warm down’ by stretching or slow jogging is advised to avoid bronchospasm. Inhaled medications are advised prior to exercise. Short-acting spray 15 minutes before an exercise or a longer-acting spray lasting up to 12 hours may be helpful, especially to children.
Heart and Lungs Disease
Exercising everyday can prevent heart disease and stroke. Regular exercise strengthens your heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, raises the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or the ‘good’ cholesterol levels; and lowers the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Exercise also helps in reducing the levels of triglycerides in the blood, improving blood circulation and thus helping the heart to function more efficiently. In addition, exercise restricts inflammation associated with heart trouble such as arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries around the heart, which may lead to heart attack. However, exercise may not have the same effect on the cardiovascular system because of the variability that runs in families.
Lazy sedentary lifestyle can be a major risk for heart disease. Even those who start exercising after 40 years of age, gain health benefits. Research studies by Dr Dietrich Rothenbacher, epidemiologist at the University of Heidelberg, Germany and his colleagues showed that all those who became active after the age of 40 enjoyed a 55per cent less chance of cardiovascular problems and those who went from being inactive to very active achieved the best benefits. In a nut-shell, an active physical activity is clearly associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Exercise helps keep your blood pressure under control. It prevents the onset of high blood pressure if you are at increased risk and it lowers your blood pressure if you already have high blood pressure.
It is true that exercise is the best thing you can do to prevent cardiovascular diseases but if you already have a heart ailment, your need for regular exercise is as important. Only, you must be careful about the type of exercise you take. Aerobic exercises help strengthen the heart, but they may put a strain on the damaged heart tissue giving rise to angina. Walking too is good. Whichever the exercise, start gradually and slowly increase the time. Each exercise should last up to about 30 minutes. Eat a light snack or drink when you require it. At any point if you feel chest pain or angina, or pain in the neck or arms, severe breathlessness or dizziness, stop immediately and rest.
Just as any other muscle, your heart is a muscle. Consult your doctor before you start on any exercise program especially if you are over 40 years of age. Moderate 20-min exercise three times a week helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Regular exercise will spruce up your cardiovascular system. Your doctor can also advice you about when and which exercise to plan if you have had a heart attack or heart surgery. People should aim to go back to their normal exercise routine.
Improved cardio-respiratory function on the other hand makes you perform your exercise efficiently. It makes you proficient at loading, transporting and utilizing oxygen. Regular exercise also benefits your respiratory system by promoting rhythmic, deep breathing. Your lungs actually develop greater capacity, so you are better able to take in oxygen to nourish your cells. This has a cascading effect and enables your blood to travel efficiently increasing the flow of oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. This is one of the reasons why you generally feel refreshed and more energetic after exercise. Climbing stairs can be far less strenuous for you as compared to the person who does not exercise
Researchers speculate that exercise helps lower the risk of cancers of colon, prostate, endometrium (lining of uterus) and breast. Exercise helps the digested food move quickly through the colon thus combating colon cancer. Exercise boosts the body’s immune system and hence helps ward off cancer. It helps reduce the levels of estrogen and progesterone (female hormones in the blood), thus reducing the risk of breast and uterine cancers. These types of cancers are often linked to high level of hormones.
Several studies show that regular exercises lower the risk of cancer. Demetrius Albanes, researcher at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, USA mentions that exercise has been found to lower the risk of breast and colon cancer particularly. Scientists are yet to pinpoint the mechanisms involved but have come up with several plausible explanations.
Regular exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, is an important way to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes—a condition that affects the way your body uses blood sugar. Exercise can help insulin work well and can lower your blood sugar.as your muscles contract during exercise, they use sugar for energy. To meet this energy need, sugar is removed from your blood during and after exercise, which lowers your blood sugar level. Exercise also reduces blood sugar by increasing your sensitivity to insulin allowing your body to use available insulin more efficiently to bring sugar into your cells.
In people with type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, the body ignores or fails to produce enough insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas gland. This condition is called ‘insulin resistance’. In people who have develped insulin resistance, the fat builds up leading to reactions that disrupt the glucose-transport mechanism. This causes the cells to block insulin activity. Research studies have shown that physical activity helps reverse this process. When you run, cycle or perform vigorous exercises, muscle contractions stimulate the production of an enzyme, which induces the breakdown of the fats interfering with the cell’s glucose transporters.
People respond differently to exercises and therefore exercise leads to varying decreases in the visceral body fat (fat surrounding the organs), which is one of the main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Physical activity can help in weight loss, which can increase insulin sensitivity, help maintain blood sugar and cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. A Study by Dr Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health, and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that a brisk walk for one hour daily could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 34 per cent. According to the researchers merely 15 minutes of brisk exercise can halve the risk of children becoming obese.