Most days I use my inhaler pretty soon after waking. What does asthma have to do with being fat?
For a long time I didn’t think it was asthma; I thought I was just fat and out of shape. I took Claritin to keep my allergies under control, yes, but I didn’t have asthma. I might be panting walking up hill sometimes, or climbing stairs, sometimes even weezing, but that just means I’m fat and out of shape. Right?
After an encounter with way too much woodsmoke, I admitted to myself that it wasn’t just allergies. (I could almost feel my lungs close.) Once I accepted it might be asthma, it occurred to me that it usually was easier for me to walk uphill after it had rained. Cleaner air? Hm.
I described my symptoms to my (new) ARNP, who exclaimed, “Exercise-induced asthma!” She began typing on her computer. “I will prescribe an inhaler. Use the inhaler, 2 puffs, at least 20 minutes before exercising! Two puffs, twenty minutes, okay?”
How do I explain the difference my asthma treatment makes? Oh, yes. Occasionally I do a Woman At Large aerobics tape. 15 and 20 minutes in, there’s the usual “let’s all check our pulse” bit.
- If I’ve used my inhaler, my pulse is between 140 and 150 (“target zone”) and I’m keeping up with the exercises.
- If I haven’t used my inhaler, my pulse is between 110 and 120…and I’m usually having trouble keeping up.
In both cases, I will be flushed, breathing a bit hard but still able to talk, and generally feel like I’m exerting myself at a good level. But I’m doing more work and getting a better cardiovascular workout with my inhaler.
What sucks about the asthma treatment? The inhaler doesn’t kick in right away (hence the “20 minutes before” rule) and wears off a few hours later. If I forget to use it in advance, then I’m stuck in my less-able-to-exercise mode for at least 20 minutes. (If I forget to carry it with me, then I’m stuck in general.)
When I do use it, I can exercise at a better level than I’m used to. Since getting to work these days usually involves walking, I use my inhaler shortly after getting up so that I will be able to walk as briskly as I can. :)
Getting back to asthma and being fat… My ability to exercise was constrained by untreated asthma. Now that my asthma is treated, I can exercise longer, more frequently, and more effectively.
I don’t know if the lack of exercise due to asthma made me fatter. I do think it prevented me from exercising.
Do I still get out of breath sometimes? Sure. But not as quickly as I used to. :)