Can Kids with Asthma Play Sports?

Exercise may trigger an asthma attack, but don’t be afraid to let your child with asthma be involved in sports. With proper management, your child can fully participate in most sports.

If your child is showing signs of exercise-induced asthma, our pediatric allergists can thoroughly review their health history and perform a physical exam that may include lung function testing with an exercise challenge. To make an appointment, please call CHOC Allergy & Immunology at (714) 633-6363.

Sports that may aggravate exercise-induced asthma symptoms include soccer, cross-country skiing, basketball, long-distance running and ice hockey.

Some activities are especially good choices for children with asthma and may be less likely to trigger an asthma attack due to the warm, humid environment, the toning of the upper muscles or the horizontal position. Activities and sports that are less likely to trigger an asthma attack include:

  • Swimming
  • Baseball
  • Biking leisurely
  • Football
  • Free downhill skiing
  • Golfing
  • Gymnastics
  • Hiking
  • Short-distance track and field
  • Surfing
  • Walking
  • Wrestling

In many cases, aerobic exercise can actually improve airway function by strengthening breathing muscles. Some tips for exercising with asthma include:

  • Have your child breathe through the nose and not the mouth to warm and humidify the air before it enters the airways.
  • Give your child asthma medication such as albuterol or a bronchodilator before exercising, as recommended by your child’s doctor. If your child exercises daily, the doctor may recommend an inhaled corticosteroid.
  • Have your child carry relief or “rescue” medications just in case of an asthma attack.
  • During cold weather, have your child wear a scarf over the mouth and nose, so that the air breathed in is warm and easier to inhale.

Allowing Your Child to Play Sports with Asthma

Smiling girl with soccer ball

Your 7-year-old son loves baseball and can’t wait to join the local Little League team. Your daughter is a big soccer fan and all her fourth-grade friends play soccer after school, so she wants to play soccer also. Both kids have asthma. What to do? Just because your children have asthma does not mean they can’t participate in any sports or physical activities.