Sports for Kids with Asthma? Sure!
Today, if you ask doctors specializing in asthma what myth about children and asthma they would like to dispel, the answer is virtually unanimous: that kids with the condition should avoid sports. "With the treatments that are available today, there is no reason why children cannot participate in any sport they want. We have asthmatics in this country who are super-athletes, who have been in the Olympics, who can achieve as much success as non-asthmatics," says Jamshed F. Kanga, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and chief of pediatric pulmonology at Kentucky Children‘s Hospital in Lexington.
Kevin R. Murphy, M.D., director of allergy, asthma and pulmonary research at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, agrees. "If a child is not participating in certain activities and sports because of asthma, then it's more a symptom of poor asthma control than anything else," he says.
Nonetheless, most medical specialists agree that some sports are ideal for the child with asthma, but others require that he or she be monitored more carefully. Since asthma is a lung disease that inflames the airways and makes them very sensitive to certain airborne allergens, sports that demand constant aerobic movement, particularly in cold weather, can be dicey.
"Generally, sports such as indoor swimming, where the air is warm and moist, are great for an asthmatic child, because there are not a lot of airborne allergens," notes Dr. Kanga. "Long-distance running, playing the non-goalie position on a soccer or ice hockey team—all may be difficult for an asthmatic child. Yet we have patients who do all of these."