Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Condition Basics

What is exercise-induced asthma?

Exercise-induced asthma is an asthma attack that happens during or after exercise. It's also called exercise-induced bronchospasm.

When you have an asthma attack, airflow to the lungs is reduced. During an attack, you may feel short of breath. Your chest may feel tight and your breathing may be rapid or shallow. You also may cough or wheeze.

What are the symptoms?

Most people with exercise-induced asthma feel short of breath early in an exercise period. But some people get worse 5 to 10 minutes after exercise stops. Breathing usually gets better within 20 to 30 minutes after you stop the exercise.

If you notice the symptoms of asthma (such as wheezing or shortness of breath) after activity, be sure to tell your doctor. But don't let asthma discourage you from exercising.

Why is it sometimes hard to diagnose exercise-induced asthma?

Most experts agree that it's hard to diagnose exercise-induced asthma during a regular physical exam. That means it often remains undiagnosed, especially in children. So if you or your child notices the symptoms of asthma (such as wheezing or shortness of breath) after activity, it's important to tell your doctor.

How is it treated?

If you have exercise-induced asthma, talk with your doctor about using medicine before exercise. It may help reduce symptoms. It will especially help in cold, dry weather.

Some doctors recommend that:

  • You use a quick-relief medicine (called a short-acting beta-2 agonist) about 10 to 30 minutes before you exercise. The effect of this medicine lasts several hours. Examples include:
    • Albuterol (such as Proventil or Ventolin).
    • Levalbuterol (Xopenex).
  • You take your long-term controller medicine every day, if needed. This can help reduce airway inflammation. And this can help reduce the overreaction of the airways that carry air to the lungs (bronchial tubes).

Here are some other steps you can take to reduce symptoms when you're active:

  • Avoid being exposed to air pollutants and allergens when you can. Exercise indoors when air pollution levels are high.
  • Wear a mask or scarf wrapped around your nose and mouth if you exercise in cold weather. This may help warm and moisten the air you breathe in.
  • Warm up before strenuous exercise. And slowly increase your activity.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Asthma in Children Asthma in Teens and Adults

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About Cigna Healthcare Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap Cookie Settings


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details