i'm a 23 years old male with asthma ( the main allergens being dust and acaris).My condition has been quite stable for some years now since i don't get attacks at all and i can pretty much function normaly on a day to day basis even though i live in a very humid city ( which is bad news for me since acaris love humid environnments).

My doctor has always strongly advised me against exercising in the gym, since it could worsen my case.Now i know it is not my place to question his judgment and that he most certainly knows better, but i would like to know if there any other people with a similar health problem that exercises in a gym regularly. what they do to remain attack-free while doing it.

Sorry for the lenghty post and thanks for reading in advance.

  • 1
    My wife and daughter have exercise induced asthma, and they just need to keep an inhaler with them. In your case, the biggest problem will be the combination of dust and heavy breathing. Not all gyms are spotless, some do better than others with wiping down equipment. When you get your heart rate up, you will breath heavier with your mouth open. That means more allergens hitting your lungs than through your nose. If you still want to exercise, take it slow and see how you do. If you feel an attack is imminent, pack it in and go home. Apr 23, 2015 at 12:53

3 Answers 3


I've had asthma since I was born, and keep a rescue inhaler with me all the time. Different things trigger asthma for different people, and also the triggers can change with time. Typically as you age your triggers get fewer and you're more aware of what they are so things are less surprising.

Not all gyms are the same: some are closed in shoeboxes with bad circulation and lazy cleaning schedules, others are disinfected multiple times a day (at least the handles and touch-ables), and others are in outdoor environments with plenty of fresh air blowing in.

8% of Olympic athletes have asthma, and you can be sure they spend plenty of time in gyms and various forms of training. Interestingly enough, 8% is also the national (USA) average of asthma sufferers. To me, that means that asthma is no longer a determining factor in athletic performance in all but the most extreme cases (particularly exercise induced asthma).

I've managed to have a fairly athletic life and my asthma inhaler is like my wallet or underwear: I don't travel far without them.

Most gyms will allow you to use their facilities for a few days or weeks for free. Do that, and bring your rescue inhaler with you. Since you mentioned that particulates and specific allergies are triggers for you, this should be a pretty quick way to determine if those items are present in sufficient quantities at any given facility.

When I was running a lot (half marathons primarily) I would almost always use my rescue inhaler for one puff in the beginning of my training runs, two minutes in, and from there I was great. If I told my doctor that I was using my rescue inhaler once a day, she would rightly freak out, but at the same time my lung capacity vastly improved, as did my VO2 max and O2 blood saturation rebound rates.

In all but the rarest of cases, the data and experience shows that asthma is something you deal with but it shouldn't keep you from a single day of training at maximum.

  • Those links about olympic athletes were a very interesting read. Thanks for a nice answer.
    – Pedro
    Apr 24, 2015 at 11:35

I have had asthma since I was 3 and exercise in the gym regularly; I also live in humid weather as well. At the beginning, even with no attacks, when you do cardio you will find yourself breathing a little heavily. Consistently training, I actually feel much better with higher tolerance to stimulants (hate spring though); it really helps minimize the asthma effects and I now sleep better. You can always go back to your doctor for a preworkout inhaler. It helps a lot .


Gyms are dirty places. People constantly moving will raise dust and pollen into the air. Mold will spread from damp gym clothes improperly dried and sneakers. Keep your inhaler on-hand. If you have issues with allergy-induced asthma, consider the potential benefits of wearing something over your mouth and nose to reduce contaminants. Sure, you'll look a bit funny with a surgical mask when lifting, but it's your health. On the exercise-induced side, listen to your body and pace yourself accordingly.

I will have to see if I can find the research again, but I know that they've established that running outside is good for your health despite increased intake of pollutants. I would expect that you'd see the same issue with asthma. You're increasing some of the risks, but you're also improving your overall health.

  • I haven't taught of the surgical mask idea before i guess it does make sense in reducing the amount of dust i inhale while exercising so it is worth trying. Thanks !
    – Pedro
    Apr 23, 2015 at 13:47
  • Unfortunately, it will also reduce airflow, so it;s only if you find that the environment is causing problems.
    – Sean Duggan
    Apr 23, 2015 at 14:07
  • Yeah, but considering all of the risks you mentionned i guess i should just stick to outdoor activities. Thanks for the help i appreciate it.
    – Pedro
    Apr 23, 2015 at 15:02

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