Swimmers warm up during the swimming and diving state meet finals at New Trier High School. (William DeShazer/Chicago Tribune)


Exercising with asthma

Some tips for warming up and working out safely for those with asthma:

•Warm up for at least 10 minutes before exercise. Cool down afterward.

•If possible, breathe through the nose, which filters, warms and humidifies air before it reaches the lungs.

•On very cold days, consider wearing a mask or scarf when exercising, or consider working out indoors.

•Consider indoor workouts when pollen or mold counts are high if allergies trigger your asthma. Same with high levels of air pollution or ozone, if those are irritants.

•Use a bronchodilator 10-20 minutes before exercise to prevent or lessen symptoms.

•Keep a rescue inhaler nearby. Don't be embarrassed to stop play if you're having symptoms, need to rest and need your inhaler.

Strict rules for elite athletes

At the Olympic and professional levels, athletes must provide documentation of their asthma. Some of the most common asthma inhalers — brand names include Serevent, Albuterol and Advair — are listed as "not prohibited" under U.S. and World Anti-Doping Agency rules. But most athletes must apply for a therapeutic use exemption to use them legally. If more than a certain amount of the drug is found in the athlete's urine, an athlete may be subject to further testing.