Asthma need not be a life limiting condition, neither in terms of longevity nor in terms of involvement. In the past, it was often the case that asthmatic children were labeled ‘sickly’ and did not participate in exercise. Now, however, exercise is thought to be one of the best ways of controlling asthma long-term. Many celebrities have been very open about their asthma, and others are coming forward all the time to help de-mystify it and to help others.
The fact that Theodore Roosevelt had asthma did not stop him becoming president of the USA. It is said that he recovered from asthma through exercise. John F Kennedy was also an asthma sufferer, with his worst trigger being animals.
There have been a number of famous writers, musicians and dancers who have had asthma. Leonard Bernstein was a sufferer and his asthma was so bad that sometimes people could hear him wheezing as he was conducting. Joseph Pulitzer was another sufferer, as was the dancer Robert Joffrey who kept his asthma at bay with a combination of medications, acupuncture and herbs.
There is no lack of famous sports people who have coped with asthma and even improved their condition through their sport. The swimmer Amy Van Dyken was the first American female to win 4 gold medals in a single Olympic games. She took up the sport on the advice of doctors who suggested she try swimming as a way to control her asthma attacks. Tom Dolan, another American swimmer, also suffers from asthma and had problems competing due to restrictions on medications he could use whilst swimming competitively. He went on to win gold medals in two Olympic games.
Whilst swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for asthmatics, other athletes have also reached the top of their sport despite having to cope with asthma. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who was a top heptathlete and long-jumper, and Paula Radcliffe, a British marathon runner, both have asthma.
Team sports are good for asthmatics because the exercise is not always constant. The NFL player Jerome Bettis, Rugby player Austin Healey and a number of soccer players also have asthma. Paul Scholes from Manchester United and Frank Lampard from Chelsea Football Club are two of the most prominent asthmatics in the sport but many people were surprised recently to see pictures of David Beckham using an inhaler. He has since said that he was happy to know that the knowledge he had asthma was helping to inspire other people with the condition to take up a sport.
The success of these people shows that asthma does not have to limit your achievements if you have the condition.