Aerobic exercise appears to curb the severity of asthma symptoms stated a study published the journal Thorax.
The researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, compared the impact of doing aerobic training and breathing excercises with just breathing exercises on the severity of symptoms in 58 people with moderate to severe asthma. The particpants aged between 20 and 59, were randomly assigned to either a 30 minute yoga breathing exercise twice a week for 12 weeks or the breathing excercise plus a 35 minute indoor treadmill session twice weekly for the same period of time.
Their bronchial hyperresponsiveness, or BHR, was tested at the beginning and end of the three month period. BHR indicates the speed of airway constriction and inflammation. Participants were also asked to keep a symptom diary to record their inhaler use, any unscheduled medical consultations, requirement for emergency care, or hospital admission prompted by their asthma. They also filled out a validated quality of life questionnaire for asthma.
At the end of the study, BHR had fallen in those in the aerobic excercise group which meant that they were able to tolerate twice the level of triggers before symptoms developed. Quality of life also rose significantly in 15 people in the aerobic exercise group. The effects were most noticeable in those with higher levels of systemic inflammation and poorer symptom control to begin with.
The researchers suggested that excercise should be routinely added to the drug treatment of moderate to severe asthma. 'These results suggest that adding excercise as an adjunct therapy to pharmacological treatment could improve the main features of asthma,' said the researchers.
People with asthma are often afraid to do exercise in case they trigger their symptoms the researchers said.
Exercise has been recommended in the past for asthma patients becuase it improves quality of life, and reduces the need for inhalers. It has not been clear whether the pros of excercise outweigh the cons.