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Swim, Bike, Run (Even with Asthma)

2012 May 29

By Scott Fraser

I am not a triathlete; those people are animals! But each year I “compete” in one or two Olympic distance triathlons. A friend recently asked me the same question I continually ask myself during the race, “Why do you want to do this?” Good question.

Well, for me, it’s a fitness goal to work towards and a great way to enjoy the outdoors while training. Quite often it’s tough to fit into a busy schedule, but just 30 minutes of exercise each day can really help. I like to swim in the mornings, fair weather commute to work on my bike and run through Rock Creek Park, a wonderful resource close to where I live. I’ve been signing up for triathlons for several years now and just completed my 10th overall (first for 2012) on Siesta Key, Florida – voted the #1 Beach in America in 2011. But while training this year, I learned something new: I have asthma.

How uncanny that I should learn about this condition in May, which is Asthma Awareness Month. My new, super-awesome doctor explained to me that I have exercise induced asthma. “Uh, you mean coughing after working out isn’t normal?” Whoa, I’ve experienced that my whole life! She further explained it’s one of several types of asthma and prescribed an albuterol inhaler to use before exercise. It’s important to know that you can still remain active despite having asthma. By talking to my doctor I was able to create an asthma action plan that has helped reduce the all too familiar coughing after strenuous workouts. And it’s good to know that professional athletes like NFL legend (and former Notre Dame dormmate – go Dawgs!) Jerome Bettis are able to manage their asthma symptoms while competing at the highest level of physical activity. We are not alone, as almost 13 million Americans reported having an asthma attack in the past year.

So as we transition to Great Outdoors Month in June, think about ways where you can get outside and safely enjoy your favorite activities. How will you be enjoying our environment? I’ll be checking for air quality and the UV Index with helpful apps to plan my outdoor training for my next triathlon. Hmmm… I really liked swimming along Siesta Key Beach, so I’ll see which triathlon has a similar open water swim for later in the summer. I’ll also be sure to slop on some sunscreen and check the beach advisory site before the swim, bike, run fun.

About the author: Scott is the Deputy Director of EPA’s Office of Public Engagement and works with stakeholders such as outdoor sporting groups. He enjoys getting outdoors whenever he can!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. May 29, 2012

    Great piece on managing asthma, working with your physician to meet mutual goals and promoting great locations…i.e. Sarasota, FL’s Siesta Beach…2012 #1 beach in USA>

  2. May 30, 2012

    Movement is life. Ventilation of lungs is very important.

  3. Lina-EPA permalink
    May 30, 2012

    Very interesting! Great blog post! Hope it will inspire others to manage their disease effectively and get active!

  4. May 30, 2012

    Congrats Scott on your tri-success! I did my first O-distance tri this weekend and I can see why you continue to do them – the training, the challenge, and overcoming obstacles make for an exciting event.


  5. Scott Fraser permalink
    June 6, 2012

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. @TC, congrats to you! And indeed part of the challenge for each race is to deal with what goes wrong and how best to overcome it. It happens every time… flat tire, dropped water bottle, goggles getting kicked off your head from another swimmer, toe clips coming loose, etc. They’ve all happened to me and you can only do so much planning for the “known unknowns.” But I’m happy to report that no environmental issues (poor air quality, beach/river closures, etc.) have kept me from completing a race. And now I’m much more aware about avoiding asthma triggers during my training.

  6. Proper Health Tips permalink
    November 9, 2012

    exercise is very important in our body to function normally..we have to do proper exercise everyday to avoid sickness

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