Until recently, the link between yoga and improved asthma was anecdotal, but unproven.

But, a recent study out of New York University School of Medicine/Bellevue Medical Center has made a pretty good case. Researchers there found that asthmatics who practised Hatha yoga regularly (or three times a week) for ten weeks reported a significant improvement in asthma symptoms and quality of life, and some were even able to reduce their controller medications.

There are two theories as to why this works. One is that as asthmatics are trained to be more aware of their breath, they recognize and treat symptoms earlier. The other is that deep breathing done during yoga trains the lungs, making them stronger and more functional.

Exercise is just as important -- if not more -- to an asthmatic, yet it's asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath that often keep us from reaching our full potential during a workout. But according to the AAAAI, most asthmatics, with help from their doctor, should be able to control their symptoms so that they can live a normal, healthy lifestyle.

If asthma's holding you back from your workout, make an appointment with your doctor first, then check out these tips for easing yourself into a regular, and hopefully wheeze-free, exercise routine.

  • According to WebMD, workouts that include short burst of exertion aregenerally better tolerated than those that are longer. (Think interval bursts of sprinting rather than long distance running, baseball versus basketball.)
  • Warming up is important to prepare sensitive lungs for the work ahead. Don't forget to cool down too - some think that a warm shower after a cool down may help keep lungs open as well.
  • Know your triggers. Spring brings pollen, summer mold and air pollution, and winter icy air. Bring your workouts indoors when necessary.
  • Some people may have to use bronchodilators before working out. Even if you don't, it's smart to keep your inhaler nearby during a workout. A recent study found that caffeine can prevent exercise-induced asthma attacks, but asthma can be dangerous so check with your doctor first.
  • Some asthmatics find that swimming is a safe exercise for them, due to the warm, humid air. Others cannot tolerate the chlorine.
  • Got a cold or respiratory infection? Take a few days off. Asthmaticsshouldn't exercise during a cold.
  • When I'm in a rough patch, I turn to workouts that focus on strength or flexibility over cardio, since they're less likely to trigger symptoms. Consider Pilates, yoga, T-Tapp, or simply working on arms or abs.

I've battled asthma for 10 years, so I know how it can impact fitness. But keep this in mind: one in six Olympians have asthma, and exercise improves the fitness and functionality of your lungs. If you find that asthma is stopping you from exercising, see your doctor so that you can get your symptoms under control.