How to Choose a Sport for a Child With Asthma

Sports-playing boy using asthma inhaler
Getty Images/Gary Ombler/Dorling Kindersley

Parents of children with asthma often want to pinpoint the best sports for youngsters with the condition. But just because children have asthma doesn't mean they must steer clear of sports or be sidelined. Robust exercise, including running, jumping and kicking, as well as team sports that encourage cooperation and coordination, are typically a part of growing up. For a child with asthma, some sports are better than others, and parents can introduce their kids to athletic options that will promote their overall health.

Boost a Child's Athletic Confidence in Preschool

Children often choose which sports to play in preschool. The sport they choose as a tot may occupy them through high school and beyond. Other youngsters may try many sports until they find one or two they feel passionate about. Parents of children with health conditions such as asthma or allergies can boost kids' self-confidence by steering them to the sports that make them feel their best.

When youngsters with health conditions express an interest in sports, consider visiting a pediatrician as a first step. A candid talk about the child's overall health or about treatment options that can expand choices should be noted from the start. A doctor's visit may also prevent a parent or child from developing unrealistic expectations about athletic participation.

The Causes of Exercise-Induced Asthma Attacks

Both parents and children should recognize the common triggers of exercise-induced asthma attacks and take appropriate precautions. Cold environment sports, such as ice skating, ice hockey, snow skiing or snowboarding, can be hard for asthma sufferers. They're taxing on the lungs and on the body.

Sports that are vigorous or take place over long periods of time, such as soccer, high-skill gymnastics (tumbling), track and field and basketball aren't easy on asthmatics either. Football can be difficult for asthma sufferers when the sport lasts for an extended amount of time in grueling conditions.

Asthma-Friendly Sports

Fortunately, a number of sports are suitable for asthma sufferers. These include swimming, baseball or softball, golf, martial arts, fencing or volleyball.

Of course, if your child has her heart set on a particular sport, don't rule it out. Discuss options with your child's pediatrician and consider looking for leagues that have a less intensive play. You'll want to closely watch your child and ensure the sport does not trigger asthma symptoms.

Since school events increasingly involve physical activities to help minimize early childhood obesity, be sure to discuss any activities your child will take part in. If your child uses an inhaler, make sure that the people in charge have the inhaler on-site in case an asthma attack is triggered.

Organized sports aren't the only triggers of asthma attacks. Relay races, kickball matches during gym or lunchtime and general environmental conditions can trigger an asthma attack. Make sure the child, school personnel or daycare staff know how to respond to an asthma attack.

Request to be notified about asthma attacks immediately, even if the attack was minor. Keeping track of the conditions that trigger attacks can help parents make better decisions about their child's physical activities. 

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