Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
January 25, 2021
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Behavior change intervention aimed at increasing physical activity improves asthma control

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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A comprehensive behavior change intervention aimed at increasing physical activity yielded improvements in clinical control, sedentary time, sleep quality and anxiety in adults with moderate to severe asthma.

Exercise-induced asthma occurs in 60 to 70% of asthmatics, then, they avoid participating in sports or physical activities. Our study aimed to evaluate if improving physical activity (low to moderate-intensity exercise) could turn subjects healthier and improve asthma symptoms,” Celso R.F. Carvalho, PhD, associate professor at the School of Medicine at the University of São Paulo, told Healio.

Celso R. F. Carvalho, PhD, quote.

The single-blind, randomized controlled trial enrolled 51 participants with moderate to severe asthma. Participants were randomly allocated to the behavioral change intervention group (n = 25; mean age, 46.4 years; 80% women) or a control group (n = 26; mean age, 45.9 years; 88% women). Both groups received usual care and disease-specific education. Those in the intervention group underwent an 8-week behavior change intervention with the goal of increasing physical activity. Participants attended weekly 40-minute counseling sessions focused on behavior change techniques to increase physical activity, including setting goals, feedback and information on health consequences; received a workbook and a wearable device to review data; and established an individualized action plan.

The researchers obtained asthma exacerbation data 12 months prior and throughout the intervention period and measured asthma control, physical activity, sedentary time, sleep quality, health-related quality of life, and anxiety and depression symptoms before and after the intervention period.

Participants in the intervention group demonstrated improvements in asthma control (mean difference, –0.8; 95% CI, –1.1 to –0.4), daily step count (mean difference, 3,605; 95% CI, 1,937-8,867), sleep efficiency (mean difference, 9.2%; 95% CI, –7.1 to 21.9) and reduced sedentary time (–1.1 hours per day; 95% CI, –2.9 to –0.6).

Compared with 60% of participants in the control group, 27% of participants in the intervention group experienced asthma exacerbations during the intervention period (P = .04). The researchers reported an inverse association with change in time spent in moderate-intensity physical activity and change in asthma control (r = 0.6).

A larger percentage of patients in the intervention group reported a reduction in anxiety symptoms (43% vs. 0%; P < .02).

Researchers observed no difference in health-related quality of life between both groups.

“Our study provides important evidence that increasing physical activity in daily life can lead to an improvement in asthma control,” Carvalho said. “The next step will be increasing the number of subjects and evaluating long-term benefits.”

For more information:

Celso R. F. Carvalho, PhD, can be reached at cscarval@usp.br.