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For Coaches and Individuals with Asthma

Physical activity can trigger symptoms in most people with asthma. Symptoms may occur either during or right after being active.

But regular physical activity is good for all of us. In fact, doctors recommend that most people, including people with asthma, get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

The good news is that if you have good control of your asthma, exercise should not be a problem for you. In fact, most people with asthma should be able to participate in any physical activity they like without having asthma symptoms.

Below are tips from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help individuals with asthma to maintain active lifestyles and resources for coaches, athletic trainers, physical education instructors and others.

Resources for Coaches, Athletic Trainers, and Physical Education Instructors:

Asthma & Physical Activity in the School from the NHLBI (April 2012).

Let's Bench Asthma: Keep Students with Asthma Physically Active and in the Game - NHLBI webinar transcript (June 5, 2012)

The Coach's Asthma Clipboard Program: Winning with Asthma - a free online 30-minute interactive educational tool for coaches developed by the Minnesota and Utah Departments of Health and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Note: Follow-up materials are unavailable by mail for DC and other states not enrolled in this program, but you can download the Minnesota/Utah Coach's Asthma Clipboard Program Booklet (PDF: 3 MB/25 pages) or Managing Asthma and Allergies Training and Resource Guide for more information.

Coaches Action Checklist - Managing Asthma and Allergies Guide (PDF: 280 KB/10 pages)

National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Stmt: Mgmt of Asthma in Athletes (PDF: 602 KB/22 pages)

Daily Air Quality Alerts from Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments


Rules of Two® - When is Quick Relief for Asthma Not Enough? (PDF: 81 KB/1 page)

Activity Recommendations for Poor Air Quality Days (PDF: 38 KB/1 page)


DC Asthma Action Plan form endorsed by the DC Department of Health (DOH)

DOH Anaphylaxis Action Plan (PDF: 1.29 KB/4 pages)

Athlete Data & Emergency Treatment Information Form - DC Public Schools (PDF, 55 KB, 1 page)

If you have asthma:

Here are some things you can do to prevent or reduce exercise-induced asthma:*


Ask your doctor about using a short-acting beta2-agonist (quick-relief) inhaler about 15 minutes before exercise. This usually can prevent and control exercise-induced asthma. You can also use this medicine to relieve symptoms during and after exercise. But remember to let your doctor know if you have to use it often during or after exercise. It may be a sign that you need to start taking daily long-term control medicine or to increase your dose.


Try warming-up for about 10 minutes before exercise. A long warm-up may help you handle continuous exercise without having to stop repeatedly to take more medicine. Good ways to warm up include walking, doing flexibility exercises, or trying other low-intensity activities.


Try to avoid your other asthma triggers while exercising. For example, if cold, dry air triggers your asthma, wear a scarf or cold air mask when exercising outdoors in winter.


If you have been having mild asthma symptoms, consider modifying the intensity or length of the activity you do.


Try exercising indoors when outside temperatures are extreme, or the ozone level is high. The same is true if you are allergic, and the grass has recently been mowed, or pollen counts are high.


When first starting to be active, try increasing your level of activity gradually over time.

Remember, asthma should not limit your participation or success in physical activities—even vigorous activities like running for long periods of time or playing basketball or soccer.

*Excerpted from "So You Have Asthma," National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH Publication No. 07-5248, March 2007.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This Web page is co-sponsored in part by The HSC Foundation with an unrestricted educational grant from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.

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For more information, contact: Lisa A. Gilmore
Telephone:  (202) 415-1962 • E-Mail:  lgilmore@natcapasthma.org
The information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of medical advice.
For asthma or any medical condition, individuals should seek medical advice from their health care professional.
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Last modified: 06/07/2016