Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Igor Karni
Asthma is a lung condition that affects many people worldwide. Though asthma can effectively be managed through various methods, those who suffer from it must be cautious about the physical activity they do, in order to ensure that they don’t risk worsening or triggering their asthma.
So naturally, the question comes up: is riding an electric bicycle a safe exercise for asthma patients to do, particularly for their lungs? And ultimately, what is the best exercise for those with asthma to do? E-bike riding is a physical activity that allows asthma patients to safely exercise. Having a consistent e-bike riding regimen will not only help to boost your fitness, metabolism, strength, and endurance and will particularly target your lung health. Maintain caution and consult your doctor whenever necessary.
This article will address the various factors of asthma and how exercise (and riding an e-bike in particular) factors into the equation.
What is asthma?
First, it is important to understand what exactly asthma is and why it is such that physical activity can affect people with this condition.
Asthma is an inflammatory condition that primarily affects the lung’s airways (source), and depending on the severity, it can make breathing difficult for the sufferer. When exacerbated, asthma can lead to tightness in the chest and asthma attacks, which are coughing/wheezing fits caused by mucus filling the airways.
Unfortunately, this can make doing exercise and physical activity hard to do, as exercising causes the lungs to work harder and can, therefore, aggravate the problem. Other things such as air quality and allergens can be contributing factors. Often, those who deal with asthma can manage it by avoiding triggers (source) and, in some cases, relying on medication such as inhaled corticosteroids (source).
That said, there are certainly many types of physical activity that are easier on the lungs, and even beneficial to strengthening the lungs. Building up lung strength in a safe and careful way can ultimately lead to asthma patients being able to do a larger variety of physical activities, and can even help to manage the condition.
If you suffer from asthma, rest assured that taking the necessary precautions will ultimately lead to effective results for you. However, it is always advised that you consult your healthcare practitioner before partaking in any regimen of physical activity.
Exercising with asthma
Some factors asthma patients should keep in mind before starting an exercise regime are the possible triggers to look out for: often, this means air quality (for example, very dry or cold air is a common trigger), pollen and other allergens, and pollution.
Experts advise that asthma patients should try and breathe through their nose as much as possible when exercising, rather than through the mouth, since breathing through the nose helps to filter the air before it reaches the lungs.
Asthma patients should also ensure not to overexert themselves or push themselves too hard when exercising. For instance, if you start to feel tired or your lungs feel like they are working too hard while exercising, it is imperative to take breaks or cut the exercise period short.
When doing an exercise like e-bike riding, one of the features that make this type of activity so accessible is that riders can increase pedal assist any time they feel tired. This way, riders can ensure that they are being safe, while not having to sacrifice physical activity.
It is also worth noting that low-intensity sports and exercises are especially beneficial for those dealing with asthma. Some of these ideal exercises include swimming, walking, hiking, short-distance track and field, recreational cycling, and any other exercise or sport that is done in shorter periods of activity (source).
A good rule of thumb for asthmatics to keep in mind is that exercises and sports that require continuous activity tend to trigger asthma more easily. This includes long-distance running, basketball, soccer, and other high-impact and high-intensity sports.
That said, asthma patients should not be discouraged: higher intensity exercises are not off the table completely. Rather, you will have to build up your endurance slowly to get to a point where those exercises are safe for you, as building up endurance will decrease the chance of triggering your asthma during these activities.
In fact, it is imperative for you to work on building endurance, as endurance-based exercises and training (also known as aerobic training) help to strengthen your lungs and heart (source). Luckily, e-bike riding is an aerobic sport that can be low-intensity, and is also low-impact, which makes it a great option for asthmatic patients to rely on as a main source of exercise.
Read also: Does riding an e-bike help train strength and endurance? And, Are electric bikes good for cardio exercise?
Remember that being sedentary is never the answer: being inactive and overweight can in fact contribute to worsening your asthma. In fact, since physical activity will help to improve your lung health, it can ultimately help you better manage your asthma symptoms. Therefore, it’s important for asthmatics to find a consistent exercise routine that works best for them and should aim for 30-minute workouts at least four days a week.
The benefits of e-bike riding for exercising lungs
Though cycling exposes riders to different environments and air conditions that may exacerbate asthmatic symptoms, people with asthma can still find ways to cycle in a way that helps, rather than hurts, them.
Specifically, when it comes to e-Bikes, one important factor to keep in mind is the pedal-assist feature. The electric power that riders can rely on and customize is especially beneficial for those who cannot otherwise handle the physical stress of traditional cycling.
This is because the battery-powered assistance ensures that those suffering from conditions like asthma do not overexert themselves, as the assistance can be increased and decreased according to the rider. However, since pedelec e-Bikes still rely on human pedal power to keep the vehicle moving, this means that riders will still reap the benefits of physical exercise no matter what.
And while it is more difficult to manage a leisurely pace on a traditional bicycle since it is entirely dependent on manual effort, the electric factor of e-Bikes makes it much easier for riders to set a more gradual pace, especially when building up endurance. Riders can either stay at a consistent pace on their rides or slowly build up to a higher intensity on a weekly basis.
Read also: Guidance for riding an electric bicycle with certain health conditions. And, Most common e-bike riding pains, how to prevent and cure.
Some common recommendations asthma patients should keep in mind before starting their exercise regime are the following:
- If you use an inhaler to manage your asthma, use it before you exercise, as this will help to relax your airways
- Be sure to take time to warm up before ridig an e-bike, as this will help to relax your muscles and better allow your lungs to adjust to the exercise
- Similarly, make sure to cool down by reducing your intensity at the end of your ride and stretching afterwards
- Since dry and cold air tend to aggravate asthma symptoms, try to avoid riding in these environments. If it cannot be avoided, consider covering your mouth and nose with either a scarf or mask
- If your asthma is triggered by pollen and pollution, make sure to ride your e-Bike in areas with minimal pollution and pollen, or avoid exercising on days that are particularly bad
- Don’t be afraid to take breaks while riding; if you feel tired at any point during your ride, increase your pedal-assist!
As mentioned earlier, e-bike riding is an aerobic sport that helps to build your endurance. Building endurance, particularly lung endurance means that through consistent exercise, your airways will build up a stronger tolerance to physical activity.
In turn, it will become easier for your lungs to perform activities and exercises that were previously difficult for you to do, or which led to shortness of breath more quickly. Exercising also helps to reduce inflammation, and since asthma is an inflammatory condition, this factor is important for asthmatics to keep in mind.
Regular aerobic exercise such as riding an e-bike will also help to improve and increase your lung capacity (source), which means that your lungs will be able to breathe in more oxygen, and thus become stronger. Increased lung capacity also means that your body will have to work less hard to breathe, which is especially beneficial for asthma sufferers.
Lastly, riding an e-bike is an exercise that will improve your heart health, such as your blood flow and circulation, and will help to improve overall fitness levels.
A few words in conclusion
Ultimately, e-bike riding is a physical activity that allows asthma patients to safely exercise. Having a consistent e-bike riding regimen will not only help to boost your fitness, metabolism, strength, and endurance and will particularly target your lung health, which is the main priority for those suffering from asthma.
As long as one maintains caution and consult their doctor whenever necessary, people dealing with asthma can certainly manage and even improve their situation through regularly riding an electric bicycle!