Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Benefits of Exercising with Asthma

This week I'm going to focus on exercise. There is simply no way I can emphasize enough the benefits of exercising, especially if you have a lung disease like asthma.  The benefits are so abounding that it absolutely essential that every asthmatic do it.  In fact, nearly every single asthma blogger that I know exercises.  It's no coincidence that we all do it, because we all learn that it is essential to living a good life with it.

There are actually two different types of exercise, and it's essential that you do both.  One is the aerobic kind, and the other is resistance training.  Still, regardless of which kind you do, here are the benefits that may result. 

1.  It helps you lose weight.  Now, keep in mind here that exercise alone will not cause you to lose weight. I have many friends who exercise and they get upset that they either stay pat or gain weight.  This is because it is a myth postulated by all those people trying to sell exercise equipment that exercise alone will cause you to lose weight. Still, exercising helps you to burn calories, and it helps you to develop muscle, which burns a ton more calories per day than adipose (fat) tissue. If you add in a healthy diet, you should easily be able to either maintain or lose weight if you exercise regularly.

2.  It makes you healthier.  So losing weight makes you healthier right from the get go.  Still, exercise by itself also increases your production of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is the good cholesterol.  This keeps your blood flowing smoothly and protects against high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, some cancers, arthritis, and falls.

3.  It makes you feel happy.  It is a proven fact that asthma is often linked with anxiety and depression even when your asthma is well controlled.  Exercise stimulates the brain to release a chemical called endorphins. They act like analgesics such as morphine to diminish the perception of pain, cause a sedative effect, reduce stress, ward off anxiety, ward off depression, boost self esteem, and improve sleep.  This is why people sense a feeling of euphoria after the run.  This is why all the participants in "The Biggest Loser" become so happy as the show progresses; they are in effect feeling the benefits of morphine without ever having to take the drug.

4.  It boosts your energy.  Increased muscle tone increases your endurance and improves your tolerance to exertion.  Physical activity increases oxygen and nutrients to the various tissues of your body to help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.  A bonus is that it makes your heart and lungs work more efficiently, making it more easy for you to function during the course of the day.

5.  It increases your memory.  It stimulates the brain to release a chemical  brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that rewrites memory circuits so your memory becomes better. So if you are a student, this is a HUGE incentive to exercise.

Further reading and references.

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