Patients with stable asthma should be encouraged to participate in regular exercise within their capabilities without concerns of exacerbating their symptoms, according to a recent study review.
Researchers analyzed data from 19 previous studies that included 695 participants, aged 8 years and older, with stable asthma. Participants had been randomly assigned to partake either in activities that included running, gymnastics, cycling, swimming, weightlifting and walking, or perform minimal or no physical activity. Exercise regimens required at least 20 minutes daily, twice weekly for at least 4 weeks.
The reviewers found that physical training was well tolerated by the participants, and no adverse effects were reported when compared with participants who did not exercise. There was no mention in any study of a participant’s asthma worsening following physical activity. In six studies, 149 participants demonstrated a statistically significant increase in maximum oxygen uptake and improved cardiopulmonary fitness (mean difference 5.57 mL/kg/min; 95% CI, 4.36-6.78). In addition, 111 participants in four studies increased their maximum expiratory ventilation (6.0 L/min; 95% CI, 1.57-10.43) with no major effect on resting lung function. Although data were inadequate because of diverse reporting pools, statistical and clinical evidence from four of five studies indicated that physical training may have improved patients’ health-related quality of life.
“ … physical training can improve cardiopulmonary fitness, and shows some positive effects for health-related quality of life,” researchers wrote “However, physical training had no significant effect on resting lung function. People with stable asthma should be encouraged to participate in regular exercise training within their capacity without fear of symptom exacerbation.”