Out of breath when exercise

Exercise-induced asthma can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and other symptoms during or after exercise.

Exercise is probably just one of several factors that can trigger breathing difficulties among people with asthma.

Most people can continue exercising and staying active by treating asthma medication and taking preventative measures.


Symptoms can last until 60 minutes or longer if left untreated. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Density or pain in the chest
  • Fatigue during exercise
  • Poorer than expected athletic performance
  • Avoidance of activity (common among children)

When to see your GP

See your GP if you have signs or symptoms of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, making it essential to get a quick and accurate diagnosis.

Get emergency medical treatment if you have:

  • Shortness of breath or wheezing that increases rapidly, making it difficult to breathe
  • Used a prescription inhaler which gives no improvement


If left untreated, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can result in:

  • Severe or life-threatening breathing difficulties, especially among people with poorly treated asthma
  • Lower quality of life due to inability to exercise

Related articles:

How should I breathe when running

Is exercise good when you have a cold


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