How To Plan For A Hiking Vacation If You Have Asthma

Preparing for any kind of physical activity takes a little bit of planning and forethought. Hiking is no different. In addition to the physical benefits like muscle building, improvement in balance, and better cardiovascular health, hiking is known to help with relieving stress and enhancing mental well being, according to Bearfoot Theory

For people who have asthma, planning for hiking might involve some additional steps. Can you hike if you have asthma? The answer is yes, per India Hikes; you just have to make sure your symptoms are being managed and you take all the necessary precautions. If you've just recently been diagnosed, you may also want to educate yourself on all the signs pertaining to an asthma attack

Whether you've been hiking for years or you're trying it out for the first time, there is no need to worry about not enjoying this rejuvenating outdoor activity if you have asthma. All you need is a little bit of careful preparation. 

Follow these simple steps before and on your hiking vacation

Podcast host, freelance writer, and blogger Rachel Meltzer who's had chronic asthma for over 25 years, shares that the number one order of affairs is to pack your inhaler if you have asthma and you're planning a hiking vacation (via The Trek). It's also important to keep your inhaler warm, especially if your hike is going to involve cooler climes. Packing other asthma-related medication and supplies like injector pens and a first-aid kit, along with essentials like water, is also recommended, according to I'd Rather Walk

While on the trail, Meltzer encourages hikers with asthma to not be ashamed of blowing their noses from time to time and making sure everything is clean and clear in there. "Keeping your nose clear can be the difference between a dry, wheezy climb and breathing through your nose uphill," she writes for The Trek. There's also no need to pressure yourself to hike at the pace everyone else is going, especially if your hiking vacation is a group affair. Having a pre-determined idea of how fast you can go can also be helpful, and one way you can do this is by walking and timing yourself before your actual hike, advices I'd Rather Walk. 

Keeping unnecessary weight off your diaphragm is also a good tip to follow, so be careful how you carry your belongings on the hike, per The Trek.

What to do if you have an asthma attack during the hike

If you start to feel an asthma attack coming on, the first thing you should be doing is finding a spot to sit down and removing your bag, according to Rachel Meltzer for The Trek. Once you've seated yourself comfortably, position your hands on your thighs, making sure your "middle fingertips are touching the tops of your knees," advices Meltzer. 

It's important to remain calm despite the situation, according to Backpacker. Purse your lips and breathe, allowing any trapped air inside your airway out. If you find the hike more challenging than you anticipated, don't be afraid to take some breaks and also hydrate (via I'd Rather Walk). Ask your hiking group for help and alert them about your condition so you can alter your pace to a slower one until you finish the hike. If you feel like your asthma attack is not something you can bring under control with the supplies you have with you, call the ranger or someone responsible for the hiking trail. Despite your best intention to enjoy the outdoors, it is your safety and health that comes first at times like these. 

A vacation that involves hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature and it's an activity you can enjoy alone (although you should make sure you're safe while hiking solo) or with friends. Having asthma doesn't have to stop you.