Exercise Can Trigger Asthma
Category: Health: Disease & Conditions
I am 28 and have been a dedicated runner for three years. For the past month, something disturbing has been happening when I run. After a few minutes, I begin to cough, my chest tightens, and I can�t seem to get enough air. I attribute it to the cold air. Could it be my heart? I am worried.
Coughing, chest tightness and the feeling that it is impossible to breathe enough air fit the description of exercise-induced asthma.
Asthma is the result of widespread narrowing of breathing tubes. Breathing cold, dry air makes some people�s airways constrict. The cold air drops the temperature of the airways. In a person with sensitive airways � as are the airways of asthmatics � the air passages constrict when cold air strikes them. Dry air desiccates the lining of the airways, and that amounts to a double attack on them.
You must get this issue settled. I cannot be sure of the diagnosis. While your symptoms and your age make a good case for exercise-induced asthma, I cannot be sure. An examining doctor can take breathing tests before and after exercise. If your problem is asthma attacks, the tests will show that exercise impairs lung function.
Warming up for 10 minutes before a run can prevent attacks. The warm-up (running in place, for example) prepares the airways for a cold air attack. They are not so sensitive to it. Cool down after running, because a sudden change in breathing pattern (fast to slow) can also trigger an attack. Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking before and during the run is another preventive step. The fluid keeps the airways moist. While running breathe through the nose. One of the chief functions of the nose is to warm and moisten incoming air. If it is impossible to get enough air through the nose, put a scarf over your mouth when running and breathe through your mouth.
If the diagnosis is asthma, pre-medicating before running prevents airway narrowing.
Q At work I share a cubicle with another fellow. He exercises at his desk. At least, that�s what he says he�s doing. He will push on his desk. The desk is bolted to the floor, so it doesn�t move. He claims this is exercise. Is this for real?
A Your cubicle partner is exercising. The exercise is called isometrics.
In a normal muscle exercise, the muscle contracts and bulges when it lifts a heavy load. Muscle fibers shorten, and the exerciser moves the weight. In an isometric exercise, the muscle fibers do not shorten. They do not move anything. They are tensed, and they generate force, even though no signs of force are seen.
Isometric exercise has been shown to increase muscle strength � significantly.
On the downside, the strength gain occurs only in a limited number of muscle fibers and only in those muscles that maintain the arm or leg in the tensed position. The entire muscle does not benefit as it does when the muscle is put through a full range of motion.
A person can do all sorts of isometrics at his or her desk. For the legs, pushing them forcefully against the floor is an isometric exercise. The number and variety of isometrics is limited only by your imagination.
The best gains are obtained when the muscle is held in the straining mode for about six seconds.
My 12-year-old son is a hockey player. He is in a highly competitive league. The boys ram each other into the boards surrounding the ice. Is this a good idea for kids so young?
No, it�s a terrible idea. The American Academy of Paediatrics urges organized hockey leagues to ban body checking at least until the players are 14. I would not mind seeing that raised to 16.
A 12-year-old�s body has not matured enough to take such banging. Twelve-year-old bones have sections of relatively soft spots where bone growth takes place. Ruin those so-called growth plates and you could ruin proper bone development.
Have a serious talk with whoever is running this programme.