Swimming is one of the best ways to control the symptoms of asthma. Though asthma can be caused by exercising, famous athletes with asthma such as Paula Radcliffe, Mark Spitz, and Amy Van Dyken have overcome their conditions. Amy Van Dyken won 4 gold medals during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, in 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4 by 100m freestyle and 4 by 100m medley events. Amy has a limited lung capacity of 65%!
How does swimming help with asthma?
According to a scientific study published by Wiley-Blackwell in Respirology, swimming helps reduce the symptoms of asthma in children. Improvements in symptoms have been observed in children who underwent a 6-week swimming programme. There is reduction in asthma severity, mouth-breathing, snoring and chest deformity. These children also enjoyed a boost in self-confidence.
The lead author at Taipei Medical University, Wang Jeng-Shing, reported that the children continued to enjoy the improvements in their health a year after the swimming program.
Swimming can help to improve lung capacity in children with asthma. Air near the surface of the water is usually warmer and more moist than normal air, and therefore it is less likely to agitate the symptoms. Through swimming, children can develop good breathing techniques and improve their overall fitness.
Some parents may be concerned about chlorine in the water.It’s those chloramines, not the chlorine itself, responsible for causing irritation in the eyes and respiratory tract. As long as children do not spend too much in the pool, it is generally safe. Parents should always practise discretion, as different children react differently to the amount of irritants in pools.
Seek Professional Advice
When in doubt, parents should seek advice from the child’s doctor before going for swimming lessons. This is especially so if the symptoms become more pronounced due to exercise.