Are Sports Safe for my Child?

Some of my best memories as a child involved physical activity.  I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to be told I couldn’t run around outside and play with my friends after being diagnosed with asthma.  Although this was the case in the past, new research suggests that physical activity might actually help children with asthma.


Doctors now encourage children to stay fit and active so they can keep a healthy weight and strengthen the muscles in their lungs, making it easier for them to breathe.  Proper training and medication allows for children with asthma to participate in any activity or sport that they chose.  The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that 1 in 6 Olympic athletes and 20% of professional athletes live with asthma.


Before participating in physical activity, it is important that your child’s asthma is under control.  Keeping up on medication will help minimize asthma symptoms, but make sure your child has rescue medication with them at all times incase of an emergency. It is also important that your child’s coach is aware of your child’s asthma and that they understand your child might need breaks from physical activity and know how to respond to an asthma flare-up.


Some activities are less likely to trigger asthma symptoms than others, like swimming, walking, and short distance bicycle rides. When it comes to sports, ones that require short bursts of high activity are best for children with asthma. These include gymnastics, football, baseball, and short distance track and field events. Sports that require high endurance, extended energy exertion, and long distance, like soccer and long-distance running, are more likely to trigger asthma symptoms.  Sports that take place in cold weather, like ice hockey, might also create problems for children with asthma.


These tips might also help prevent your child from getting asthma flare-ups:

  • Avoid outdoor activity when pollen counts are high
  • Cover mouth/nose with a scarf or ski mask when it’s cold outside
  • Breathe through nose, not mouth during activity
  • Always warm up before activity and cool down afterwards


Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works