Exercise-induced asthma is a medical disease that causes you to become short of breath while walking. This type of asthma is triggered when your chest and diaphragm muscles become irritated during strenuous activities. Exercise-induced asthma can be just as disruptive to your activities as other types of asthma, so you’ll want to be mindful of possible triggers and how best to manage this condition.
Our post provides information on how exercise-induced asthma is different from other forms, what potential triggers may exist for this type, and tips for managing symptoms.
Table of Contents
- Why Does Walking Make Me Breathless?
- Causes of Shortness of Breath When Walking?
- Why am I having more Asthma Symptoms While Exercising?
- Exercise-induced Asthma Triggers
- Tips to Help You Manage Shortness of Breath While Walking
- Shortness of Breath can from Anxiety
- Tremendous Feeling of Stress
- When should I be concerned about the shortness of breath?
- Can lack of exercise cause shortness of breath?
- When should I seek medical help?
- What should I do if I’m having trouble breathing while exercising?
- How do you know if shortness of breath is serious?
- What can I do if I’m having trouble breathing while exercising?
Why Does Walking Make Me Breathless?
Most of us experience shortness of breath at some point when we exercise, particularly if we haven’t exercised in a while. This is because muscles that aren’t used to working vigorously can tire quickly and cause you to breathe more heavily. You’re probably not having an asthma attack during such an instance, however.
Breathing heavily during exercise is sometimes referred to as exercise-induced respiratory alkalosis (EIRA). This means that your ability to absorb and release carbon dioxide in your blood decreases, causing you to breathe faster to compensate. Some studies suggest this effect is greater in people who have asthma than in healthy individuals.
Causes of Shortness of Breath When Walking?
Exercising can be hard on some people. Some of these issues are unique to asthma, while others are not. That said, physical activity has many great benefits, so it’s good to know what to do if shortness of breath stops you from getting your health benefits.
Shortness of Breath During Exercise
If shortness of breath is affecting your ability to exercise, you have several options. If it’s related to asthma, you may need to slow down your walking pace, even if that means walking more slowly than usual for exercise. If it’s related to anxiety, consider talking with someone you trust about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You may be overdoing exercise because you’re getting scared or anxious about it. Listen to the voice telling you this and take steps to shift the way you react to your fears.
Obesity can affect everyone, but some people with asthma may be particularly sensitive to its effects on breathing. If you’re overweight and find that exercise causes you to pant and gasp for no apparent reason, consider losing weight or heading to a doctor for advice.
If you have psoriasis and find your shortness of breath during exercise is bothering you, talk with your doctor about ways to protect yourself from triggers so that your condition doesn’t flare up while exercising. You may also need to work with a physical trainer or someone who specializes in working with people with allergies so that you can get the most out of your workout.
A serious medical condition, arrhythmia, is when the heart beats too fast or too slow. Both conditions can cause shortness of breath, and in cases in which breathing is severely impaired, arrhythmia can be fatal. If you’re experiencing these symptoms during exercise, see a doctor right away.
Sudden Attacks of Severe Coughing
Suppose you have asthma and find that coughing episodes happen when you’re exercising. In that case, your shortness of breath may be related to your asthma medications or your inhaler technique rather than the physical effort itself.
Why am I having more Asthma Symptoms While Exercising?
Your asthma symptoms may be more intense when you’re exercising because the muscles in your chest and diaphragm aren’t accustomed to being used vigorously, causing them to tire quickly. As a result, your lungs may be working harder at a faster rate during exercise, causing you to breathe more heavily. This makes it harder for some of the air that’s reaching your lungs to be exhaled cleanly. Your body is working hard to get rid of carbon dioxide, so it tries to do so via the air you’re breathing out.
As you exercise, you experience increases in ventilation caused by the increase in effort required to breathe. This may cause you to breathe faster, which can cause you to exhale more deeply or faster than usual. The difficulty you have with breathing may also be due to your diaphragm being overstretched during exercise.
Exercise-induced Asthma Triggers
It is possible that certain types of physical activity can trigger EIRA. If you’re struggling with shortness of breath when walking or exercising, it’s important to pay attention to what might be making it worse for you.
Mental and/or Emotional Stress
An acute stress response from your subconscious may trigger your condition. The so-called fight or flight response can cause an exaggerated response from nerve endings in your lungs, potentially resulting in more frequent asthma attacks.
Inhaling certain kinds of chemicals, such as irritating fumes from cleaning products, gasoline vapors, or paint fumes, may trigger asthma attacks in you. This might happen even if you have no history of asthma – if it’s a sudden response to a new irritant.
Exposing Yourself to Allergens
Certain types of physical activity, like jogging or dealing with moldy materials, can expose you to allergens that are very powerful, such as mold or dust mites. These allergens may make you more sensitive to these irritants, leading to asthma symptoms during physical activity.
Sneezing or Coughing
Because they cause chronic inflammation in your chest and lungs, sneezing and coughing can trigger EIRA in some people with asthma. In addition, the faster breathing that results from exercise is very similar to the kind of rapid breathing caused by a bout of coughing or sneezing, so this may be triggering your condition.
You may be breathing too shallowly during exercise to get enough air into your lungs, making you feel short of breath. This type of shallow breathing can influence your body position, the temperature around you, and how hard you’re working out. The fact that your body is trying to compensate for increased carbon dioxide levels in your blood may make this worse too.
Cortisol and adrenaline are two types of stress hormones released by your brain when you experience fear or other kinds of stress. These hormones can contribute to inflammation in your airways, potentially causing EIRA symptoms during physical activity.
Tips to Help You Manage Shortness of Breath While Walking
You may find that certain kinds of exercise make you more susceptible to EIRA symptoms, while others make them less likely. Therefore, you’ll want to find ways that work well for you to cope with these symptoms when they do happen. Here are some tips that may be helpful:
Be Mindful of Your Triggers
If you’re having shortness of breath while exercising, it’s important to be mindful of what might have triggered your EIRA. If it’s an event, activity, or circumstance you can avoid, you may be able to prevent or manage your symptoms. For example, when exercising outside, remove yourself from the area if you think it might worsen your asthma. Likewise, if cleaning dust off drywall worsens your asthma, you can do other things while waiting for the dust to dry instead. If other triggers are possible, try these first before considering medication:
- Removing yourself from situations that might make your asthma worse. For example, rinsing out your mouth after exercising outdoors. Wearing a scarf and washing your hair more often if you exercise outdoors and are exposed to many allergens.
- If you’re allergic to dust mites, try using sheets on your bed that doesn’t hold onto dust as easily, such as ones made from cotton. This will help keep the allergens in your home from getting into the air you breathe while you’re at home.
Get the Right Kind of Exercise
The right type of exercise can help manage asthma symptoms, so it’s helpful to get good guidance on this. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, and Pilates can be useful for some people who have asthma and want to be physically active while managing their symptoms.
Look for Triggers
If you know, certain kinds of physical activity can make you more susceptible to asthma symptoms, trying to avoid those exercises might be a good idea. If your exercise triggers are work-related, consider switching to a different job or location that’s less taxing on you. If your triggers are environmental, consider leaving that area until after work hours or the next day. If it’s an unusual form of exercise that could easily trigger your condition, try it on the weekends first before doing it repeatedly on weekdays.
Consider Your Breathing Pattern
Think about how you typically breathe during physical activity and how this might change over time as your condition progresses. For example, you may find that you need to take more or faster breaths while exercising. That could potentially make your symptoms worse. Find ways to slow down or even stop breathing for a moment when your symptoms are super-intense, so you can get your breathing under control.
Certain kinds of exercise may be triggering EIRA in some people with asthma. If you’re having trouble managing your symptoms during exercise, see your doctor about the possibility of using the right medication to help manage them.
Removing Yourself from Places That Trigger Your Asthma
If you think, certain activities or circumstances may be making your asthma worse, and it’s important to get away from them or rest when you’re able. If the trigger is outdoor exercise, for instance, try closing all of the windows in your home and covering up electrical cords with clothes that might be carrying dust into the house. If it’s pollen or airborne irritant that’s triggered your asthma, consider wearing a scarf and/or washing more frequently.
Walking more Slowly for Your Breathing Pattern
If you’re experiencing problems breathing while walking, take it slower than usual and watch for indicators of shortness of breath, such as feeling like you’re running out of air. If the issue is related to asthma, realize that many people with this condition will feel more comfortable walking slower than they normally would. Try slowing down just a little bit and see how that feels for you before speeding up again.
Shortness of Breath can from Anxiety
Because asthma and anxiety share many of the same symptoms, it’s important to understand what each might look like. When you feel short of breath while exercising, try asking yourself these questions:
Taking Shallow Breaths While Exercising
If your shortness of breath is related to asthma or some other form of physical illness, you may be breathing more shallowly than normal. Many people automatically breathe this way when they’re feeling out of shape or are super excited about exercise. If your asthma is caused by an environmental irritant, though, breathing shallowly can make it worse because you’ll be getting less air into your lungs instead of more.
Taking Faster Breaths than Usual
If you’re breathing more quickly than usual, your lungs need more air. If this increases over time or gradually increases as you exercise, it could be due to asthma or another illness. If your breathing changes suddenly and acutely, it could be anxiety-related shortness of breath.
Tremendous Feeling of Stress
If you’re feeling a sense of panic while exercising, this may be related to anxiety and not shortness of breath. It’s also possible that anxiety is related to shortness of breath even when you’re not exercising. If it’s the second kind, anxiety could be triggering your asthma or another type of physical illness. Anxiety can be so crippling and crippling for some people, and it can make them feel like they can’t breathe at all. Ask yourself why this is happening with exercise in particular since many types of physical activity might cause fear in others with anxiety disorders.
When should I be concerned about the shortness of breath?
If you have shortness of breath while you’re exercising, it’s essential to identify whether this is related to your asthma or some other kind of physical illness. This helps determine if the problem might be improving with exercise and what you can do about it.
Can lack of exercise cause shortness of breath?
Yes. If you’re not exercising regularly, the quality of your exercise may change, and that can lead to shortness of breath.
When should I seek medical help?
If you have all of these symptoms while exercising: heart palpitations, chest pain, feeling faint, headache, and extreme shortness of breath, seek help from a doctor right away. These may be signs of a serious physical illness.
What should I do if I’m having trouble breathing while exercising?
If you feel the urge to stop, slow down, or return home, listen to your body. If your shortness of breath is severe and can’t be managed with deep breathing techniques, slow down until the symptoms are better under control.
How do you know if shortness of breath is serious?
Shortness of breath while exercising may indicate a problem with your breathing. If you see your doctor about this, they can evaluate your symptoms more thoroughly. For example, you might be diagnosed with asthma or another form of physical illness. They may run blood tests to determine if you have an infection or blockage in one of your lungs. They could also give you medications that can help control your symptoms.
If you have shortness of breath triggered by anxiety, seek help from a mental health professional who understands how anxiety can affect body systems.
What can I do if I’m having trouble breathing while exercising?
First, ask yourself why you’re having trouble breathing. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath because your lungs are struggling to process enough air, slow down or stop exercising for a few minutes to let your body rest and recover. This also gives you time to focus on deep breathing exercises.
If you don’t feel like slowing down is an option, it’s fine to take another route if possible. For example, if you’re exercising outside, consider working out in a different gym or training space. If you’re exercising at home, consider practicing your hobby at a different time of day or week.