Updated 16 September 2014

Asthma-friendly and unfriendly sports

Asthma-friendly sports fulfill a number of requirements. When weighing up which sport to begin, ask the following questions...


Asthma-friendly sports fulfill a number of requirements. When weighing up which sport to begin, ask the following questions:

  • When participating in this sport are you able to control your breathing rate and depth?
  • Can you breathe through your nose?
  • Does it promote coughing, air trapping, or airway drying?
  • Are you able to rest and drink fluid whenever you need to?
  • Does it include a mixture of short high-energy bursts with low energy endurance activities?
  • Does it involve other people who are able to watch out for your safety?

Asthma-friendly sports
Swimming is the most asthma-friendly sport of all. Other sports include:

  • Cycling
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Walking
  • Short sprints

Team sports that require quick bursts of energy are also asthma-friendly, according to the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI):

  • Baseball
  • Rugby
  • Wrestling
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Short-distance track and field events

Sports requiring continuous activity or are cold weather sports are likely to trigger asthma:

  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Long-distance running

What about scuba diving?
Traditionally it’s been an absolute no-no for asthmatics to even consider scuba diving. But it's now been decided that asthma should no longer be considered the absolute contradiction to diving that it was previously thought to be. If your asthma is well controlled, exploring the deep blue may become a reality.

However, there are some asthmatics who would be at too great a risk to consider diving. These include:

  • Exercise or cold-induced asthmatics.
  • Asthmatics requiring chronic medication.
  • Mild to moderate asthmatics with normal screening spirometry can be considered if FEVI/FVC ration is above 85% of predicted.
  • Although you may be excited about exploring the ocean depths, use your common sense. To safeguard you and your diving buddies' safety if you’ve had an attack, don’t dive until your airway function has returned to normal.
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