Exercise and Asthma


When exercising, the muscles require an increased supply of oxygen and glucose to produce energy through cellular respiration. Without oxygen and glucose, the muscles will become fatigued and will not be able to sustain physical activity.

During physical activity, the body’s demand for oxygen increases to support the energy needs of the muscles. To meet this demand, the respiratory system increases the rate and depth of breathing to bring more oxygen into the body.

  • Rate of breath – Number of breaths taken in a given time
  • Depth of breath – The amount of air inhaled

Regular exercise can also lead to improvements in respiratory muscle strength and endurance. The muscles involved in breathing, including the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, can become stronger and more efficient with regular use. This will make breathing more efficient.

Over time, regular exercise can also increase:

  • The number and size of the small blood vessels in the lungs
  • The number of functional alveoli

This will allow more gas to be exchanged in each breath, making gas exchange more efficient.


Asthma is a condition in which the airways become narrow and swollen. They can also be blocked by excess mucus. This reduces the amount of air that can go in and out of the lungs. It makes breathing difficult and some physical activities very challenging.

People with asthma also have lungs that are very sensitive to certain triggers, such as pollen, dust and smoke.

The main symptoms of asthma are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound made when breathing)
  • A tight chest

An asthma attack happens when symptoms get much worse. Asthma is often managed with medications that are inhaled using an inhaler device. Inhalers deliver a precise dose of medication directly to the airways, where it can quickly start to work to control symptoms and prevent attacks.