If you are asthmatic then you’re probably very familiar with exercise induced asthma. According to WebMD, exercise induced asthma or bronchoconstriction is caused by the airways in the lungs narrowing, making it difficult to breathe.
The condition is triggered by strenuous exercise such as backpacking, hiking, jogging and other types of exercise and strenuous activities.
However, WebMD states that exercise induced asthma is not the root cause of asthma. Bronchoconstriction is brought on by the muscle bands around the airways being sensitive to various changes like humidity, temperature, altitude and other weather conditions.
The symptoms usually start within 5-20 minutes after you start exercising. Sometimes symptoms begin 5-10 minutes after minimal exercise has ended. Symptoms of bronchoconstriction include:
- Wheezing and gasping
- Chest tightening or pain
- Strange fatigue when exercising
- Shortness of breath during exercise
- Athletic performance is worse than usual
Always consult with your physician, especially if you are suffering from any of the above exercise induced symptoms.
Exercising and Backpacking with Asthma
Just because you have asthma does not mean that you cannot exercise. In fact, many specialists agree that you do not have to limit physical just because you get exercise induced asthma.
In fact, numerous athletes including Olympic athletes compete with asthma. Conferring to the Mayo Clinic, many people with bronchoconstriction can live normal active lives by taking preventative measures and treating the symptoms with the right asthma medications.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the respiratory system; therefore people who are asthmatic should take extra precautions when backpacking. Some everyday safeguards to follow are:
Keep a Routine – anyone who is asthmatic needs to follow a routine. If the body is not used to additional stresses or activities such as backpacking, the body can react in a negative manner without any warning signs.
Sometimes the body will give you warnings but some people tend to ignore them entirely.
Slowly Prepare Ahead of Time – Prepare for a trip slowly, especially if you’re planning on a long or strenuous hiking trip. For instance, every day you should add a little extra exercise to your routine.
That way you slowly condition your body for the big hike and not over stress your body. Too much stress on the body will often trigger an asthma attack.
Take a Daily Walk – a daily morning walk will do wonders for your body and health. In fact, the benefits of a daily walk for anyone asthmatic are numerous.
Actually, early morning walks in the clean and cooler air helps open up the respiratory track and airways.
Keeps You Synchronized – Daily exercise for asthmatic patients is crucial to health. Exercise benefits the whole system and also helps with a routine that is essential for health and well-being.
Diet – the diet for asthmatics should be nutritious. Heavy meals should be avoided because they overwork the system.
Meals should also be small and frequent as oppose to large and once or twice a day. Moreover, a vegetarian diet with minimal carbohydrates and fats is recommended for asthmatics.
Also, sweets should be avoided at night. For snacks, fruits and vegetables should be consumed instead of sweet or salty foods.
Smoking –asthmatic patients should abstain from smoking entirely. Smoking will quickly fill the lungs and respiratory system with numerous toxins.
The toxins are huge irritants to the respiratory tract and produce unnecessary pressure on the system. Oftentimes the pressure will overtax the whole system and cause many issues such as:
- Bronchial spasms
- Respiratory infections
- Trigger an asthma attack
- Cause excess swelling of the lungs
Abstain from Alcohol – indulgence in alcohol should be avoided by anyone who has asthma. This is because alcohol tends to make a person break the discipline of their diet and routine.
In addition, alcohol depletes your body of nutrients and makes you hungry, therefore overeating is common.
Cleanliness -anyone with asthma should keep a clean and tidy house. When a house is dirty it collects dusts, which in turn triggers an asthma attack.
A cluttered house can attract mites and other microorganisms that may trigger an attack. To avoid dust and mites, clean and organize on a daily basis.
The Atmosphere – sometimes an asthmatic person may react to their immediate environment. For instance, pollution or pollen in the atmosphere may affect your breathing abilities.
As well, toxins at work or near a certain dwelling can affect asthma patients.
Tips for Backpacking with Asthma
Whether you have mild or chronic asthma, backpacking can be quite enjoyable and accomplished without any attacks. In fact, there are various tips that can help you deal with asthma while hiking.
Don’t Forget Your Inhaler -always bring your inhaler, even if you feel that you won’t use it. Also, if you are hiking in cool or colder climates, make sure that the inhaler stays warm.
The inhaler will stay warm if you keep it close to your body.
Don’t Worry About Others – it’s okay to be the last one up the hill. Hiking is not about competition, it’s about the experience.
Listen to your body and take as many breaks as needed. You also need to pace yourself.
A slower pace will decrease your asthma symptoms making them mild and unproblematic.
Keep Your Nostrils Clear – always keep your nose clear so that more air can get into your lungs and passageways. When your nose is not clear it can create wheeziness.
Have a Properly Fitted Backpack – make sure that your backpack is properly fitted. Extra weight on your diaphragm or chest can make breathing difficult.
The shoulder straps and hip belt need to be adjusted properly for good support.
Work on Your Breathing – always work on your breathing even if you’re not exercising. Proper breathing exercises help strengthen both the diaphragm and lungs.
Simply purse your lips when breathing and use your diaphragm.
Prevention – if you feel an attack coming on while hiking, sit down immediately. Also, take your backpack off to release the pressure.
Be mindful of a pre-attack, signs include wheezing and coughing.
Using Your Inhaler – always use your inhaler if you need it. Preventing an attack is vital, especially when you are backpacking and far away from any medical centers.
Strengthening your breathing will greatly increase your hiking and backpacking ability if you have asthma. Just be sure and do it safety. you may also want to consult with an asthma professional to gain insight and information.
Conditioning the lungs may also reduce many asthma symptoms. In fact, many asthma patients claim that since they started hiking on a regular basis they use their inhaler less.
However, you should still carry an inhaler while hiking. If you have been diagnosed with asthma, consult with your physician prior to going on a hike or backpacking trip.