*Guest post by Theresa Wiza, please check out the links underneath the post to find more of Theresa's work.*
As anyone with asthma knows, just about anything can trigger an attack, so avoiding triggers that precipitate an asthma attack is imperative.
However, asthmatics can't always predict what might prompt an asthma attack. Once I was watching an episode of Bonanza and laughed myself into the hospital. Even today laughter can bring on an asthma attack faster than if I had run a mile at full speed on a treadmill.
Like many adults, I fully expected to be free from this disease as I got older. Instead – for me – it got worse. I've been borderline COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for the past couple of years and in the same time span I've had both pneumonia and pneumonitis, diseases I'd never in my entire life experienced. I was also diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer late in 2009.
Looking for answers on how to control my asthma while also preventing another occurrence of breast cancer, I've sought help from numerous doctors. Over the years I have visited several pulmonologists and allergists, and I've heard everything from, "You'll have to learn to live like an invalid, " to, "Increase the oxygen in your lungs."
One allergist told me not to shake linens, do laundry, or climb stairs because those activities brought on my asthma attacks. He wanted me to get someone else to perform those tasks for me and he wanted me to see him twice a week – forever.
I've learned to steer clear of allergists who want me to rely on them for the rest of my life and I have opted instead to seek the wisdom of doctors who tell me to work on increasing my lung capacity. And what better way to increase lung capacity than with exercise!
Take it from the wise doctor – with the right balance of exercise and the proper medicines to treat asthma symptoms, along with staying away from those things that bring on asthma attacks (if possible), asthmatics should be able to live a fairly symptom-free life.
Exercise can be an asthmatic's nightmare, though, so anyone suffering from asthma must learn to recognize and respond to his or her own limitations. Some asthmatics have other problems that might prevent them from pursuing an exercise regimen. They might be suffering from EIB (Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm), but even that shouldn't hinder asthmatics from promoting their own healthy lifestyle. (To learn more about EIB, please visit EIBAllstars.com.)
We can not use our physical limitations as excuses for not exercising. Just because we have physical problems doesn't mean that we are doomed to live unproductive lives or that we can neglect our physical wellbeing. We must remain vigilant of and contribute to our own health. And for some of us that means we just might have to take it a littler easier than our healthier friends.
For instance, along with asthma and borderline COPD, I have scoliosis and a persistently swollen right foot. I may not be able to walk far, but I'm determined, even at the age of 61, not to succumb to my asthma. Though I can't exercise for long, I exercise every day, even if just for a short time.
The most important thing asthmatics must use in determining how much exercise they can handle is common sense. At the first signs of wheezing, stop, breathe slowly, and, if necessary, use an inhaler or a nebulizer. For me and others my age, the option of owning our own nebulizers didn't exist when we were younger. I was nearly 60 years old before I got a nebulizer and it has been a godsend. The moment I feel tightness in my chest, I pull out my nebulizer.
But I don't rely on inhalers and nebulizers. If you have to rely on inhalers to breathe through an exercise, seek out new allergists or pulmonologists who are more concerned about your health than they are their incomes.
During an attack, any movement, including using your vocal chords, can bring on even worse symptoms. Make your health a priority. Take care of yourself during an attack. Drink lots of fluids. Make sure you're not experiencing something else, like pneumonia or a respiratory infection. Baby yourself until the attack is over, and then get right back into exercising to strengthen your lungs.
If you have neglected yourself for several years, start with something simple, like walking. My mother, who was told she was borderline emphysema in her 30s, quit smoking and bought a treadmill for herself. She walks half an hour each morning and half an hour each night. At 79 years old, she is in great shape, and you would never believe she is anywhere near her age.
Don't limit yourself for any reason beyond doing what you need to do to breathe properly. Strength training with weights is important too, especially as we age. Start slowly. Feel your heart rate increase. That's your sign that you're doing something right.
Lunges are great ways to shape your legs. When you feel your legs hurting the next day, you'll know you're whipping your body into shape, and you'll feel better about yourself just knowing that you cared enough about YOU to take care of the body that carries you.
Taking care of grandchildren means I move around – a lot. My grandchildren and I even dance together. But my actual exercise routine consists of stretching and using a stationary bicycle to rev up my heart and expand my lungs. I also use dumbbells and more recently, kettlebells. I wasn't sure how to use kettlebells until I found a great little video to help me with my kettlebell exercise. I plan to implement the exercises I saw in that video into my routine. Click Kettlebells Vs. Dumbells and scroll down the page to watch the video.
If you don't want to exercise alone, and you can't afford a gym membership, join forces on Skype to exercise. I've coined a new phrase for friends and family members who live too far away from each other to visit, but who want to exercise together – Skypercise. Click the link for Skypercise With a Partner to find out how Skypercise works.
Also, please join me on my new Skypercise Facebook page to show your commitment to becoming more healthy no matter what physical limitations you experience.
And if you are interested in learning about Aging Well Without Botox or Plastic Surgery, please click the link.
Theresa Wiza is the author of several blogs and articles. You can find her at any one of the following places:
My name is Suz and I'm just an everyday woman who is trying to figure out when exactly I turned old. I'm not a doctor or an expert- what I am is a woman who wants to know for myself and to share what I learn with other women.
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