Winter Running: Asthma and Cold Weather

I have written several posts as part of my “Winter Running” feature recently, looking at different aspects of exercising during the colder months.

Check out my first two posts here:

Winter Running: Asthma and Cold Weather Tips
Today’s post looks at how to deal with running in the cold winter weather if you’re an asthmatic. Cold weather can really aggravate the condition and make it much harder to breathe, to the point where you may have to look at taking your run indoors until the temperatures improve.

Symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • coughing or wheezing
  • decreased performance

However, here are some ways I’ve managed to handle my asthma and still enjoy a more scenic and interesting run outdoors!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. Please always seek advice from your GP before engaging in any activities which might be affected by a pre-existing condition. The first step is always to get your asthma under control. 

1. Wear a buff or scarf around your face, and try to breath through your nose to warm the air before it reaches your lungs.

2. Make sure to layer up, particularly over your chest. I find that this helps enormously if I just keep the area warmer- gilets are a great option for this!

Winter Running: Asthma and Cold Weather Tips

3. If necessary use your reliever inhaler before a run. These should be taken 15minutes before you leave, and help to open up your airways.

4. Warm up slowly– spend time indoors warming up, and when you start running don’t go off at a sprint or straight away run up a massive hill!

5. Rest when necessary – listen to your body and if you notice your breathing becoming laboured or you feel faint then stop and take a break. Make sure you always carry your phone, inhaler and emergency ID just in case.

Winter Running: Asthma and Cold Weather Tips

6. Avoid cold drinks, which cool your airways and chest when you swallow them. Instead try pouring warm water into your bottle when you leave the house- it will have cooled down enough to drink after a while but won’t be ice cold! And it has the added benefit of warming your hands.

7. Try not to run first thing in the morning when temperatures are at their coldest, but schedule your runs for weekday lunchtimes or mid-morning on the weekends.

8. Don’t rush through your cool down. Avoid sudden changes of temperature in your airways, by taking at least 10-minutes for your cool-down period.

9. A warm shower or bath post workout can help to raise your body temperature slowly and ease your breathing after a run.

Winter Running: Asthma and Cold Weather Tips

Finally remember that having asthma doesn’t have to be an obstacle to exercise, especially running!

In actual fact, down to running regularly, I’ve found that I rarely notice my asthma anymore, and I’m grateful for how much it has improved my health. I don’t need to rely on my inhaler anymore, and I just take these extra precautions during the winter, so I’m able to continue to enjoy the fitness activities I love 🙂


For more information on Running with Asthma check out this awesome post from “Life’s a Wheeze”

Any other runners out there struggle with their breathing in the winter? 
Beki x

Note: This month I’m taking part in the #thankyourunning campaign with Brooks Running and The Running Bug, aiming to highlight why I’m grateful for running and how it has helped me overcome obstacles in my life. I have a video which will be going live on the Video Hub later in the month, along with some other inspirational stories so check it out!

And if you have a story to share, submit a video of yourself to be in with a chance of winning some awesome Brooks kit. 

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  • Reply Maria

    I love that you don't let it hold you back- so many people use it as a reason to not exercise.
    I don't have asthma, but I do find it hard to breathe when it is so cold, although when I try to breathe through a buff I end up with a really wet face from the water in my breath, so it's the lesser of two evils!

    February 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Hi there!

    I started running around March/April this year and shortly after ended up with a chest infection and a bring rediagnosed with Asthma (haven't had an issue with it for years!). Anyway, using my reliever before runs has helped and I've built up quite well, 10k being my furthest so far.

    But now the cold weather has hit I'm struggling getting out, it really sucks. Went for my last one 2 weeks ago and I'm still suffering with a cough and tightness. Really hoping this isn't the end of the road for me, well ubtill the weather warms up anyway.

    Might try a buff, need to try something. Running is my release! Lol. X

    October 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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