“I coach youth sports a lot and I come across a lot of kids that say, ‘Coach Ben, I can’t do this running because of my asthma,’ so I say to them, ’Look, I’ve got asthma and I ran 50-kilometres on the weekend’,” Ben says.
“You can do it. You’ve just got to be smart about it.”
Ever since he was a child, Ben Lavery made it his mission to not let asthma stand in the way of his love of sports.
Now at 23 years old, he’s got an impressive portfolio of extreme sporting achievements behind him and wants to inspire other young kids to not let their asthma hold them back from achieving their goals.
“For me, growing up, my parents never told me that asthma was going to stop me from doing anything,” said Ben.
“So I was 100% confident that I could do everything that someone without asthma could do, and do it better, so it’s never held me back.”
In fact, despite being hospitalised multiple times with asthma as a child, he found that taking up sports actually helped to improve his symptoms instead of making them worse.
“I started off playing soccer, then went into basketball, and then running from there, but basically when I started to play sport and get my fitness up, my asthma started to improve pretty steadily,” he recalled.
Even though his asthma did start to improve, Ben always ensured he kept his life-saving medication close by.
“It was always one of those things where if I’d go away playing basketball, somewhere where it was cold, I’d have to always have my asthma puffer there, ready to go.”
Over the years, Ben has played two seasons in the Queensland State League Basketball, paddled 22-kilometres in open ocean and competed in multiple gruelling 50km running events.
Throughout it all, he ensures that good asthma management remains front and centre of his preparations.
“When you’re out in those remote places, mountain biking on some dirt track somewhere, or doing an endurance race, and it’s out in the bush at night-time, miles away from anyone – I want to make sure I’ve got something there that can help me,” he said.
“I think, knowing where you’re at with asthma is important. If I’ve got a flu or a cold and I’m going into an event, then I’m thinking to myself ‘A, I definitely need to have my asthma puffer on hand, but B, I want to make sure I’m not going to push as hard as I would if I was fit and 100% healthy’.”
Next on Ben’s list is tackling a grueling six-day running event in Adelaide this October. We wish Ben luck (not that he’ll need it). If you’d like to follow Ben on social media, check him out on Instagram @bensbigadventure
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If you or someone you care for, would like more information on managing asthma symptoms during exercise you can contact our Asthma Educators here.