Warm Up to Conquer Exercise-Induced Asthma
Some routines can limit symptoms and even protect lungs after exercise
If we know one thing for sure, it’s that exercise is good for your health. But some conditions, such as exercise-induced asthma—also known as Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction—can make it difficult to complete your workout.
In an attack of EIB, the airways narrow and make it hard for air to move in and out of the lungs. The symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and a tight chest. It occurs both in people with chronic asthma and others who do not normally experience the disease.
However, a new study from the journal Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise, suggests that certain warm ups can help limit symptoms.
In the study, researchers looked at four different kinds of warm ups: intervals, continuous low-intensity, continuous high-intensity and variable intensity. They concluded that:
“The most consistent and effective attenuation of EIB was observed with high-intensity interval and variable intensity pre-exercise warm-ups. These findings indicate that an appropriate warm-up strategy that includes at least some high-intensity exercise may be a short-term non-pharmacological strategy to reducing EIB.”
Through these types of warm-ups, protection from EIB can last for up to 80 minutes, the study found. (And perhaps longer, since the researchers only tested subjects up to 80 minutes after the subjects finished their workouts).
The intervals used in the studies were as short as 30 seconds, but in general the findings agree with information provided to writer Alex Hutchinson by Michael Koehle at the University of British Columbia. Hutchinson wrote about this advice in a previous article and summarizes the recommended warm up with three points:
- It lasts at least 20 to 30 minutes.
- It starts with a gentle jog, cycling session or swim with a gradual increase in pace.
- It includes several bursts at 80 to 90 percent of maximum intensity that last for two to five minutes.