I have recently made a decision to participate in the Fight For Air Climb in Chicago on March 11, 2018. I know you are probably saying, "Why would someone volunteer to climb 180 flights of stairs?!?" On top of the physical challenge, I also have severe asthma. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was an infant, and because of great doctors and advances in research, I am at my healthiest. And I want to help raise funds to support the mission of the American Lung Association and others who struggle to breathe.

The first leg in my journey up those hundreds of steps was committing to the Climb and setting a fundraising goal as all participants are required to raise a minimum of $100 to support lung disease awareness and research. The second is training. While I have been walking six to 10 miles a day for several months, stairs are a little different. I immediately visited my go-to resource – GOOGLE! I found a great training program that I have modified for my severe asthma.

Step 1: Warm Up
Prior to every training session and on race day, I warm up by walking or jogging for five minutes. Because I have asthma, I prepare my lungs by taking a puff on my fast-acting inhaler before I warm up and then I notice I am not as winded in my workout.

Step 2: Stretch
I stretch my quads by bending my left knee and bringing my leg behind me. I hold onto my left foot with my left hand for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other leg. I then stretch my hamstrings by extending my left leg in front of me and bending my right knee. I lean forward and hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other leg. For my glutes, I lie down on a mat with my feet flat on the floor and place my left foot on top of my upper right thigh. I then pull my right thigh toward me and hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other leg.

Step 3: Run
I start my cardio right away by running up a flight of stairs for one minute, going up two steps at a time if I can, and then walk back down the stairs. I do this about six times. Each week I try to increase the number of times I run up the stairs until I have climbed the number of stairs of the race. My goal is to run up the 19 floors of my apartment building at least once before my Fight For Air Climb. While I have access to real stairs, using the stair machine at the gym for at least 20 minutes also works.

Step 4: Jog
I turn that intense stair running into a jog to keep up the cardio. If I’m on a treadmill at the gym, I set an eight percent incline. If running seems overwhelming, I bicycle for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 5: Strength Training
I do a series of 20 squats, lunges and crunches.

Step 6: Cool Down & Stretch
Depending on how I feel, I walk or jog for 10 minutes after each work out. This helps to slowly lower my breathing and heart rate. And then I stretch at the end of any workout, which will help cut down on muscle fatigue and soreness.

Step 7: Opt for the Stairs
Now that I’ve started this new routine, I take the stairs whenever possible, rather than taking the elevator. The more stairs I climb, the more exercise and practice I get.

I do this routine three times a week, which I know sounds very daunting, but over time it will become easier. Or at least that’s what I tell myself!

Because I have a chronic lung disease, it's important for me to listen to my breath throughout my training workouts. I remind myself not to push it too hard and if I have breathing trouble to stop and rest. The Lung Association has this useful tool to help you stay active with asthma, and you can use it as a guide to talk to your doctor about new exercise routine.

I am VERY EXCITED to hear that my hometown Detroit has already sold out its Fight For Air Climb. I would like all my friends and family to find out when the Fight For Air Climb is happening in your city and please participate by donating, climbing or both. Don't forget you can always Ask Dr. Renee!

Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.

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