All kids love playing outdoors with their friends, biking or playing sports, and Jack is no different. He loves being outside, playing with his friends. The only catch was how to help him be active without triggering his asthma symptoms.
We didn’t want to “baby” Jack just because he had asthma and keep him indoors while his buddies were out having fun. Finding physical activities that wouldn’t trigger the dreaded “exercise-induced asthma” and which he enjoyed turned out to be a challenge.
Jack wanted to keep up with his friends and be part of the gang, like any kid. But many of the activities his friends enjoyed- bike riding, football, playing tag- exacerbated his asthma. So we worked to find a sport that allowed him to play with his friends without triggering his asthma.
Fighting the Fear
At first, trying typical sports ended badly. Jack’s classmates love to run on the playground at recess, but too much running makes Jack wheeze which could send us into the yellow (caution) zone of his Asthma Action Plan.
What’s worse, running would start sending me into a panic. While I’ve been trying to help Jack get over his fear of running, as an asthmatic myself, I know when I run my breathing becomes choppy and I panic, breathing in short gulps of air that makes things worse. I’m trying to stop doing this and make sure Jack doesn’t make it a habit that he has to break as an adult like me.
After researching asthma for awhile and talking to Jack’s doctor, it’s become clear to me that Jack can participate in any sport that he enjoys as long as he paces himself. What’s more, I can too!
I’ve taken up jogging and I’ve encouraged Jack and his brother to join me. Having an adult by his side might boost his confidence and teach him how to run without panicking. Jack’s agreed to take up running with me. We’re looking forward to entering a kid’s marathon in August. I’ll keep you posted!
We Have a Winner!
After getting over my own overprotective Mom issues, I learned to let Jack experiment with different sports on his own. He played soccer for awhile and the fast pace knocked the wind out of him. He had to leave the field before the game ended, and that wasn’t good for his confidence. He tried tennis for awhile, but it didn’t work out, either – like soccer, it’s non-stop pace caused breathing problems.
We then considered sports with plenty of downtime, including golf and baseball. He tried golf and loved it! Finally, a winner!
Jack enjoys using strategy and concentration to sink putts. The leisurely pace gives him time to relax after long walks on the green, so there’s no worry about shortness of breath or wheezing. And Jack’s actually a very good golfer for his age! Who knows, we may have a future PGA champ in the making!
Every asthmatic child reacts differently to gym class and physical activity. We’ve been lucky – Jack’s found a sport he loves at a young age. I’m wondering, how do you go about monitoring your child’s playtime and physical activity?
Well, that’s it for now.