(DENVER, Colorado) – If you’re the parent of a child with asthma, you know it can be a challenge to find ways to help him or her exercise safely and comfortably. But experts say there is one activity that can help keep your child fit, and actually improve asthma symptoms.
“When it comes to cardiovascular activities that are well-tolerated, swimming, specifically, is highly recommended, particularly in indoor swimming pools,” said Tod Olin, M.D., a pediatric pulmonary specialist at National Jewish Health. “We know that the kids with asthma are less likely to trigger attacks if they’re in a really humid environment, and the water forces them to be more conscious and controlled with their breathing.”
Not far from Dr. Olin’s office is Morgridge Academy, a school for children with chronic conditions who require daily medical attention on the campus of National Jewish Health. Administrators there consider swimming so therapeutic that it’s a part of the school curriculum.
“Before coming to us, many of our kids didn’t run around and play like other kids,” said Jennifer McCullough, director of Education at Morgridge Academy. “But when you get them into that pool with that warm air, and teach them how to regulate their breathing, they can do a lot more physical activity than they would be able to do otherwise.”
Over time, students who regularly play and exercise in the indoor pool have gained better control of their asthma and improved their cardiovascular health.
“We track the progress of each student, and we’ve found that swimming in the pool helps reduce their symptoms. Swimming is a large part of our fitness program that has been key inscaling back emergency room visits and hospital stays.” said McCullough.
Doctors say the warm, humid air of indoor swimming pools can provide children with asthma an ideal environment for exercise, and it often helps improve their asthma symptoms.
Kristian Jackson, 11, uses his inhaler before exercising. Since strengthening his lung function through swimming, he has been able to keep his asthma under control with less medication.
Kristian Jackson, 11, swims at the pool at Morgridge Academy on the campus of National Jewish Health in Denver. The school serves children with asthma and other chronic illnesses and makes swimming part of their curriculum, which not only allows children to exercise, but also has been shown to improve asthma symptoms.
Tod Olin, M.D. examines 11-year-old Kristian Jackson at Morgridge Academy on the campus of National Jewish Health in Denver. Jackson, who has asthma, has shown considerable improvement in his symptoms after enrolling at the academy, which uses indoor swimming classes to help children get regular exercise and control their asthma symptoms.
Kristian Jackson, 11, attends class at Morgridge Academy on the campus of National Jewish Health in Denver. The academy enrolls only children who have chronic health conditions who need daily medical attention. Jackson, who has asthma, has shown marked improvement after going through the school’s swimming classes, which are designed to help children exercise safely and improve their asthma symptoms.