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Actions for Physical Education Teachers and Coaches

  • Appreciate that exercise can cause acute episodes for many students with asthma. Exercise in cold dry air and activities that require extended running tend to asthma more readily than other forms of exercise. Medicines can be taken before exertion to help avoid an episode. Warm-up and cool-down activities appropriate for any exercise will also help the student with asthma. These preventive measures allow most students with asthma triggered by exercise to participate in any activity they choose. Learn more about exercise and asthma.

  • Athletes and Asthma: The Community Coaches Role
    Learn about asthma, how it affects an athlete's ability to compete, and how a coach can help athletes manage their symptoms while playing their very best. No child should be excluded from playing simply because they have asthma.

  • Avoid outdoor exercise when pollen or pollution levels are high. Get forecasts and alerts for air quality and environmental issues to help you plan for outdoor activities.

  • Support the student's treatment plan if it requires pre-medication before exercise.

  • Know what to do if an asthma episode occurs during exercise. Have the child's Asthma Action Plan available.

  • Encourage students with asthma to participate actively in sports, recognizing and respecting their limits. Know the warning signs and symptoms for asthma. Permit less strenuous activities if a recent illness or asthma episode precludes full participation. When asthma is under good control, students with the disease are able to play most sports. A number of Olympic and professional athletes have asthma.

  • Refer your questions about a student's ability to fully participate in physical education to the parents and school nurse.

Adapted from Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education. September 1991. NIH Publication No. 91-2650.