Asthma and Activities For Infants and Young Kids

When your child has asthma, you need to think about how their asthma will react to the activities he or she take part in. It's best to pick activities that are fun and healthy, and learn how to manage his or her asthma during these activities.

When choosing an activity, think about:

Season: Does your child's asthma get worse in different seasons? If it does, you may want to think about what season the activity takes place in. For example, if cold air makes your child wheeze, talk to your doctor or asthma educator about what to do to prevent an asthma attack before playing outside.

Time Outs: Sometimes kids with asthma do better in activities with definite starts and stops. Some activities with built in "time outs" for rest include baseball and gymnastics. Sports like soccer don't allow as much rest time, so soccer may be hard if your child's asthma is severe.

The big picture: An activity may seem like a good fit for your child in some ways, but there may be other reasons not to choose it. For example, swimming is frequently a great choice because the added moisture in the air at the pool soothes inflamed lungs. On the other hand, some people have asthma that is triggered by chlorine. So look at the whole environment of the activity before you make your choice. If your child cannot be active without causing asthma trouble, talk to his/her health care provider. The goal is asthma control so your child can be as active as he/she wants to be.

After thinking about all of the above, talk over your choice with your child's health care provider. He or she may have ideas about ways your child can keep his or her asthma under control and be active. For example, many kids can stay active as long as they take their long-term medications as prescribed, and keep a quick-relief medicine handy.

Whatever activity you choose, be sure to let the adult in charge know that warm up and cool down are important for a child with asthma, and give them a copy of your child's Asthma Action Plan so that they know how to keep your child breathing easy and can help if there is trouble. Keep in mind that symptoms from exercise or play can come 8-10 hours after it is done.

Adapted from "Asthma & Physical Activity in the School," National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, NIH Publication No. 01-3651, 1995