That said, I found out as an adult I'd suffered from mild performance asthma all my life. I wish I'd known this as a kid. I always thought I started wheezing at the quarter mile mark of a gym run because I was a physical fitness loser and wimp. It colored my perspective of myself, of my abilities, and of my enjoyment of exercise (decided lack thereof with the exceptions of biking and hiking, which did not kick in the asthma like running did). Until I joined Planet Fitness at the recommendation of my doctor AND a specialist I had to see (they ganged up on me, what was I supposed to do ... and it's only $10 or $20 a month depending on the plan so why not), I assumed that my asthma would preclude a lot of activities at the gym ... except weightlifting, I found weightlifting also did not impact the performance asthma. But I was wrong as I soon discovered to my delight ... really, no exaggeration, I was delighted. Today I put in over 3 1/2 miles on the elliptical machine and stair stepper machine combined, averaging 3-4 miles per hour, and spending an hour combined (and 400 calories) on the machines.
When working on the stair stepper machine (harder for me than the elliptical ... but with weightlifting I long ago realized that the exercises that are toughest are the most needed) I started getting short of breath. I saw my heart rate was over 150 and my stride was pretty fast. My chest was tightening and I wondered if the asthma were not about to rear its ugly head. Instead of stopping for breath, I slowed down and made an interesting (and "no duh" when you think it through) discovery. As my heart rate came down from 150 to 140, my breathing returned to normal and I was able to successfully continue the exercise, being more careful to monitor my heart rate for the rest of the routine. No further shortness of breath occurred, even when I started feeling really good and stepped it up a notch toward the end (runner's high, see Adventures in Fitness 2). So, asthmatics, start exploring. Your life may not be as limited by this chronic condition as you think. I know mine isn't.
Once you make this discover about your asthma, the world starts to unfold a bit more for you and you start looking around at other possibilities for exercise and play. I think I'm going to rent a kayak soon at the nearby state part and take a turn around the lake.
For those of you with more serious asthma that is harder to control, God bless you. Take pride in all you can do and hang in there. I'm rooting for you.