(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 in scaling back emergency room visits and hospital stays.” said McCullough.