Skip to content

Exercise-Induced Asthma: Cold Weather Activities

Make an Appointment

This information was reviewed and approved by David Tinkelman, MD (4/1/2012).

Snowboarder catching airUnfortunately for people with asthma, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and other winter sports have more than snow and ice in common - they also involve exposure to cold air.

As with most forms of allergies, prevention is the best way to control exercise-induced asthma (EIA). This is also true for these winter sports. Fortunately, EIA can be controlled in most cases by people using their physician-prescribed asthma inhalers before exercising. (Check with your personal physician before changing any treatment regimen.) These are safe, easy to use and effective.

Taking the time to warm up before exercise is important as well. By taking some time to warm up your body with light activity, you'll have some added protection because the body produces chemicals that protect against bronchospasm. This is not instead of using your inhaler, but in addition to it. Both of these steps will lead to a better experience in these cold weather sports, as they do in all other sports.

Coughing and wheezing, followed by shortness of breath, are signs a person may have EIA. These symptoms usually appear 5 to 20 minutes after finishing the activity. Coughing and wheezing after exercise are important signs to consider that an individual has or is developing asthma. People experiencing these symptoms should speak with their physician.


Tips for preventing exercise-induced asthma during winter sports are:

  • Wear a mask or scarf to warm cold air before breathing it

  • Take asthma medication 15-30 minutes before skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, etc.

  • Warm up 30 minutes before starting the exercise

For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.