Ways to stay fit on ‘Ozone Action Days’ even if you have asthma

Ways to stay fit on ‘Ozone Action Days’ even if you have asthma

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge area has had a few Air Quality Alerts in the month of May. Poor air quality caused by a combination of ground-level ozone and air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, triggering wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing, and even leading to hospitalization in serious cases.

WAFB First Alert Storm Team's Diane Deaton announced an Ozone Action Day for the third day in a row on Thursday, May 10, and this time it was a "Code Orange," meaning it could be especially unhealthy for sensitive groups to be outside.


  • Children and adults who are active outdoors
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema
  • People with heart

The groups that are most sensitive to the pollutants should decrease exposure by reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. That includes working out. For people who enjoy staying fit, outside is a prime place to do workouts, walk, or run.

RELATED: Ozone Action Days called when weather conditions run risk of causing health problems

On WAFB's new Facebook group, Get Fit Red Stick, member Laura Vaughn asked, "With the Action Alert Days being in the Orange and my having asthma, what kind of activities can I participate in if I don't belong to a gym?"

WAFB reached out to a few local asthma experts to find out the best options for working out on an Ozone Action Day.

"Try to exercise early in the morning or late in the day, but not when it's hot outside," said Dr. Prem Menon, M.D. at the Asthma Allergy Immunology Center. Dr. Menon also said to limit exercising outdoors because the allergens are going to be more flared up on an Ozone Action Day.

"Be sure and take your asthma medicine ahead of time and always keep your inhaler with you," said Dr. Menon.


  • Dr. Prem Menon, M.D.
  • 5217 Flanders Dr.
  • Baton Rouge, 70808
  • 225-766-6931

Asthma sufferers are often encouraged to avoid their known triggers, as well as any respiratory irritant.

"The most common respiratory irritant is second-hand smoke, but ozone falls in that category, too," said Dr. L. Ben Gaudin, II, M.D., Board Certified Allergist with the Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center.

"We try to be practical when we tell people to avoid things because we know they can't," said Dr. Gaudin. "Ideally we tell them not to go outside much on days when ozone counts are high."

If you have to get in your daily run, he says where you go for your run is important. "Running along a busy road, you're more likely to be bothered by air pollutants from car exhaust versus cleaner outdoor setting like a park," said Dr. Gaudin.

For some asthma sufferers, exercise can be considered a trigger, and an Ozone Action Day can simply worsen the effects. Dr. Gaudin says swimming is better tolerated for exercise-induced asthmatics.

"We don't want you to avoid exercise. We want you to be healthy. We may have to do more medical treatment to control the asthma to allow you to participate in the activities you want to do."


  • Dr. L. Ben Gaudin, II, M.D.
  • 7968 Goodwood Blvd.
  • Baton Rouge, 70806
  • 225-923-3283

Are you a member of Get Fit Red Stick? Join now to be a part of Team WAFB.  We'd love to hear your fitness related questions. You can share them directly to the group and we'll connect you with fitness experts in the Baton Rouge area.

(Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology)

  1. Limit your time outdoors
    Restrict strenuous outdoor activities to early morning or evening when air quality is better. Keep windows closed at home and in the car to avoid exposure.
  2. Use allergy mask if you MUST go outside
    Wearing a mask limits your exposure to allergens. You don’t want to add your allergy exposure to the bad air quality.
  3. Keep medications on hand
    Take preventative medications as prescribed and keep your rescue inhaler nearby in case of an asthma attack
  4. Breathe properly
    Try to breathe through your nose, not through your mouth. The nose's job is to filter the air and bring it to the right temperature and appropriate level of humidity. If you breathe through your mouth, you bypass this filtration system.

Talk to your doctor if you find yourself using your rescue inhaler more than twice a week. It may indicate that you need preventative medication, or a change to your current dosage. Make sure you have an asthma action plan so you are prepared to handle worsening symptoms.

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