Is physical activity good for asthma?
Being active can help to improve your child’s quality of life and help to keep their lungs healthy.
Regular movement is good for your child’s lungs because it increases the strength of the muscles around their lungs and the rest of their body. As they build strength, their muscles will need less oxygen to work. This means that they will breathe better while moving.
Physical activity can also:
- improve your child’s immune system, helping them to fight asthma triggers like colds and flu
- help your child to manage and maintain a healthy weight
- lower your child’s stress levels, which can trigger asthma
- improves your child’s mood
- help improve your child’s sleep
- improve your child’s brain health, so they can learn and remember more
- reduce your child’s risk of other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, dementia, and some cancers later in life
- help your child to make new friends and feel part of a community.
Be prepared for an emergency
Make sure that your child always has their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them so that they can use it quickly if they get asthma symptoms while they’re exercising. Tell your child’s teachers, friends, or sports coaches about their asthma too.
What activities can my child do?
Children aged between five and 18 should aim to do at least 60 minutes of moderate activity every day. Moderate activities will raise your child’s heart rate and make your child breathe faster and feel warmer.
Your child should try to do different activities across the week. For example:
You can help your child stay interested in physical activity by:
Making activity part of your child’s daily routine
If physical activity is part of your child’s daily routine, it’s easier to do it.
Encourage your child to walk, cycle, or use a scooter when going to school. If your child uses public transport, they could try getting off a stop early and walking the rest of the way.
After-school sports clubs are another way to add exercise to your child’s daily routine. These clubs are usually free or low-cost.
Making physical activity fun
Try out different activities until you find something that your child likes. Making physical activity fun means your child is more likely to carry on doing it.
Local leisure centres usually offer a lot of free and low-cost classes for children, like dancing, swimming, and climbing. You can also use the Sport England website to find exciting free and low-cost activities, including Disney workouts and children’s yoga.
Getting other people involved
Getting family or friends involved could help your child look forward to physical activity. It could be as simple as playing football together in a local park.
Your child might also enjoy a team sport. Sports teams are a great way to make new friends and help your child feel like part of a community. Use ClubHub to search for children’s activities near you.
Physical activity for disabled children
If your child is disabled, they should aim to do 20 minutes of physical activity each day. There are a lot of ways your child can stay active, including sports teams, swimming, and cycling.
The NHS has more information about accessible activities for children.
Common questions about physical activity
It’s okay if your child breathes faster or more deeply when doing physical activity.
See your child’s GP or asthma nurse if exercise triggers their asthma symptoms. This is usually a sign that your child’s asthma is not as well managed as it could be. Read more about how exercise can trigger asthma.
Let them know that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It might help to remind your child that asthma is a common condition, around 1 in 11 children have asthma. They probably know other people living with asthma.
You could also encourage your child to be open about their asthma by telling them about sports stars with asthma, like Millie Bright and David Beckham.
Physical activity will not make your child’s asthma worse. It could actually improve their quality of life and help them manage their asthma.
If exercise makes your child’s asthma worse, this could be a sign that their asthma is not as well managed as it could be. Read more about how exercise can trigger asthma.