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photo William Stratbucker, MD
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Kids, Sports and Asthma Do Mix
by William Stratbucker, MD on 05/19/2010 at 1:01 PM

I'm excited to include a new feature of Double Duty: guest bloggers. I hope you'll enjoy reading and engaging in conversation with other Helen DeVos Children's Hospital physicians. My colleague John Schuen, MD, specializes in treating children with chronic lung conditions with such as asthma.

As a pediatrician and specialist in children's lung issues, I'm often asked if kids with asthma can participate in sports and go to summer camp. The answer is yes! Being active and playing sports does more than help a child with asthma stay fit, maintain a healthy weight and have fun - it can actually strengthen a child's breathing muscles and help the lungs work better.

For these reasons, your child's doctor may recommend exercise as part of the asthma treatment plan. If you have your doubts about whether sports and asthma mix, consider all the professional and Olympic athletes who have asthma. Nearly 17 percent of U.S. Olympic athletes had asthma and 30 percent of them won medals in the 1996 Olympics.

There are two important things to remember when preparing your asthmatic child for a sports or camping experience.

1. Your child's asthma must be under control in order for them to participate

2. When your child's asthma is well controlled, he or she can - and should - be active just like anyone else.

If your child has asthma and wants to experience a traditional summer camp but you're not comfortable sending them away, consider Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Asthma Camp. Our camp is designed for children ages 8 to 13 years old. Children participate in traditional camp activities such as canoeing, crafts, archery, swimming, hiking, an overnight campout and an honor's campfire at Camp Tall Turf in Hesperia, Michigan. They are supervised by pediatric physicians and nurse practitioners in the case of an asthma flare up. It's a safe environment for kids with asthma to experience the joy of summer camp while being medically supervised. Visit the asthma camp page to learn more.

- Dr. Schuen


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Comment posted by Asthmatic Nurse on 06/17/2010 at 1:14 PM
As an adult who has suffered from asthma since I was a preteen, I can attest that being active is sports is not only doable but it's healthy. Lately I have noticed that I feel better when I have been regularly walking, running, swimming or biking. I actually use my inhaler (with a spacer) less when I am active. Thanks for debunking this "myth", hopefully more PCP's will realize this too.