Asthma & Exercise. What Should Singers Know?

exercise Consideration for Singers with Asthma

Are you a singer with asthma? Here’s what you should know about exercising with asthma.

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In this episode of MoveMedics TV, Physio and Singer, Selina, breaks down:

  • How asthma affects singers
  • Asthma management tips for singers
  • How asthma medications can affect your vocal folds
  • Exercise considerations for singers with asthma

You May Also Like: 5 Ways To Improve Your Breathing

Follow @voice_physio on Instagram for content made for Singers!

’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.

B. Phty
This information is not medical advice. Got health concerns? Consult a real-life health professional.
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I was asked about exercise for singers with asthma on the gram. Thank you Angel. And here are my thoughts.

Asthma is a condition of the lungs where there are inflammation and narrowing of the airways. These result in an increase in intrinsic resistance within the airway, making it harder for air to flow, especially during exhalation.

Because there is an increase in resistance to airflow inside the lungs, there is generally an increase in effort for breathing.

To overcome this, it is very common for people with asthma to go to the neck and shoulders and this can contribute to undue tension in the neck and the voice.

Singers may further attempt to overcome this increased intrinsic resistance by squeezing from their throat, which of course also contributes to undue voice tension.

Like all health conditions, when asthma is well managed, it is less likely to be an issue.

The key to managing asthma is prevention.

Doctors typically prescribe a preventer and a reliever for people with asthma. It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions and take your medications regularly.

Be mindful that some asthma medicines can negatively affect your vocal folds, so make sure you tell your doctor that you are a singer so they can prescribe what is best for you.

People with asthma often have more sensitive and reactive airways and are more susceptible to irritants, so knowing and avoiding your triggers are important.

Common triggers are cold air, dry air, smoke, chemicals, perfume and even exercise. More on that shortly.

Every person with asthma should have an asthma action plan.

This is when your doctor will work out with you what to do when you have an asthma attack, what medicine to take, how much to take, how often to repeat, and the maximum times you can safely repeat this, and when to seek medical assistance when none of this is working for you.

This plan should be reviewed regularly because things do change.

In terms of exercise, people with asthma have extra reasons to improve their breathing efficiency and this means firstly, cardio.

Traditionally, doctors would advise kids to take up swimming because it is great for building lung capacity and you’re also exercising in a moist environment.

However, chlorine can be drying and irritating for your voice, which is bad news for singers. Not to mention it can trigger asthma for some people, so you really have to decide for yourself whether swimming is suitable for you.

Anything that helps improve breathing efficiency is good for people with asthma. So apart from cardio, movement activities that help you stay limber in your neck, your spine, your rib cage and strong in your core, your back and your breathing muscles are all very good.

The best exercise is the one you like and want to do regularly. So even when you have asthma, when you are mindful of your triggers and your exercise environment, you know your asthma action plan and you have your reliever medication with you, most people simply do exercises they enjoy.

However, if you are someone who gets exercise-induced asthma, you may want to work with an exercise physiologist to fine-tune how you exercise.

As always, learning good vocal technique for efficient voicing and developing efficient breath support is of foundational importance for all singers, and this is especially important for singers with asthma.

And that’s what I want to say about that.

I’m Selina, a physio, a singer. Random thing about me. Other places I post stuff for singers. Do let me know with the thumbs whether you like this or hated it, and please subscribe to help me grow this channel.

’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.

Selina Asirus Tannenberg. Voice Physio


Selina Tannenberg is a Meanjin (Brisbane)-based Physiotherapist, Singer, Composer. She believes a Strong, Limber and Fit body is an under-utilised key to enhancing Vocal Efficiency and Performance so has created Voice Physio to help Singers build Strong Bodies for Singing! She publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus, and has a pet dragon named Sk’on.

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