Saturday, April 23, 2011

Asthma and Cycling: Like Riding A Bike.

At some point as a kid, you became determined to ride a bike all on your own. You had to learn how to steer, how to brake, how to keep yourself going, and how to get up when you fell down. That's a great metaphor for how we deal with asthma, too.
Steer clear of obstacles and know when to use the brakes. Staying on top of the symptoms is key; when you can’t do that, adjust accordingly. The Willamette Valley offers a veritable plethora of environmental triggers for allergies and asthma: grass pollens, and tree pollens, smoke from grass burning, molds, dust, take your pick. For most of us, we’ve learned what kind of medication works, and we adjust our activity when pollen counts are peaking. Keeping the triggers at bay allows you to fully enjoy what this corner of the planet has to offer. If asthma or allergies are already compromised and then a trigger hits you, that’s a bad day, and it’s going to be a long journey getting back to normal. 
Keep your momentum, and get back up when you fall. An asthma plan should be seen as a process that moves with you every day. It’s a routine with a "plan b,” just in case. That’s all. Once it’s working for you, it honors your possibilities and potential. It keeps you out of asthma jail long enough to enjoy the freedom of a normal day, even in the valley. You’re going after control of the factors as much as possible. However, you can’t control every factor all the time, and it’s likely that at some point, asthma will flare up despite everything you tried. You’ll get back up, just like riding a bike.
It’s important to have some kind of exercise that keeps you motivated and active. It will help keep excess weight off and improve lung function. I’m learning to keep junk food out of the house and drive past the drive-thru windows. When I’m not wheezing or tight, I do workouts that emphasize deep breathing; it strengthens the intercostals and all the muscles that assist the lungs. I’ve noticed that continued, frequent workouts that don’t trigger my asthma have actually scaffolded up so I can do more, for longer periods of time. High on my list of real-life heroes: Beth is able to race bikes in the mud because she’s got this figured out. Jessica is biking, running and swimming in preparation for a triathlon (and chasing after three very active boys, so she's getting extra workouts). As soon as I can swim greater distances, I’ll jump into a triathlon, too.  That’s what plans can do for people with asthma. 
Asthma plans can’t “cure” us, they just help us unleash our possibilities.


Jessica said...

Did you seriously just use the phrase "asthma jail"? I love it and am going to steal it!
I'm touched to be one of your "heros". (Now there's pressure to live up to the title! EEK!)
You're welcome to join Tina and I in the Blue Lake Triathalon on June 11th. That way we can cheer each other on!

Kelly Carlisle said...

Thanks for the invitation. I'd really like to do it, but my swimming is not progressing as well as I thought it would. Still trying to put together some sort of distance without having to stop. I'll let you know!
Happy Easter!

Jessica said...

I've found that I won't be able to do freestyle for this race. It tuckers me out too quickly and I have a really difficult time regulating my breathing. I'm going to do breast stroke because my legs are way stronger than my arms and I can swim a pretty quick breast stroke. There aren't any rules about HOW you swim the 1/2 mile, just as long as you don't drown!

The thing that really helped me was getting a couple private swim lessons. She was able to help me a lot with technique and give me different ways of breathing. Other than that, it's just getting in the pool everyday or every other day. Practice, practice, practice! You can totally do this! ; )

bikelovejones said...

Just so you don't put me on too high a pedestal:

Beth may look like some kidna singlespeedfreakgoddess, but still has her moments of "asthma jammage".

I WILL say that working out 2-3x a week at a local gym seems to have helped me lose a little weight (shocking!), enjoy a little less shortness of breath out on my bike, and experience an overall sense of slightly increased strength.

Still, I am friends with my inhalers and I DO try to pay attention to my body on a daily basis. It looks like OCD to the uninitiated, but to friends with pesky health complications it's just Par For The Course.

Anytime you wanna come play in the mud with me and my friends, let me know and I'll score a loaner mountain bike for you.


andy medrid said...

I think walking is much better option than cycling while you have an asthma. I had experienced asthma. That is why I said so.
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