Exercise may benefit asthma sufferers after all!
If you are asthmatic, you may want to consider adopting a more active lifestyle, as new research suggests that adult asthma sufferers could see their symptoms relieved somewhat with just 30 minutes of exercise per day. In the Canadian study - published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research – the researchers assessed the exercise habits of 643 participants diagnosed with asthma. The researchers discovered that those who had completed optimal recommended levels of physical activity on a regular basis, were actually almost 2.5 times more likely to have good control of their asthma symptoms, in comparison to the participants that had not done any exercise. The good news is, the physical activity required to significantly reap the benefits doesn’t appear to have to be too strenuous, such as competing in a marathon, and can be something simple such as walking, riding a bike or doing yoga. Lead author Simon Bacon, a professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, saw how whilst there was evidence of exercise benefits for asthma patients, the majority of the findings emanated from studies involving children. Therefore, the decision was made to investigate exercise and asthma control within adults. In the past, those that suffer with asthma have typically been told to severely limit exercise, stemming from the belief it will cause a shortness of breath and asthma attacks. Bacon explains that simple precautionary measures can be taken to avoid the discomforts brought on by physical activity. However, Professor Bacon says that there are basic precautionary measures asthmatics can take to limit symptoms that can arise as a result of physical activity. “The issue of exercise-induced bronchospasm is real but if you use your reliever medication, blue puffer, before you exercise, and then take the time to cool down afterwards, you should be okay. Even if you have asthma, there's no good reason not to get out there and exercise,” he said. Professor Bacon and his team of researchers found that only 100 of the study’s 643 participants reported doing the optimal 30 minutes of exercise a day. In addition, 245 admitted to doing no exercise whatsoever. According to Professor Bacon, this statistic does indeed reflect the general population, as 40% of people do not do any exercise at all. He states that doing some exercise is better than nothing, and more is better than less. “Even the smallest amount of activity is beneficial,” he says. “We are not talking about running marathons here.” He adds that exercise is vital throughout the year, which includes the winter season, when people tend to ease off with exercise in line with temperature and cold air can cause a flare-up of asthma symptoms. Professor Bacon appreciates that not everyone can or even wants to exercise outside, and suggests maybe going to the gym, or if not, use the stairs as much as possible. Indeed anyone can be creative and indoor environments, where the cold is not such a major problem. “It would be great to see physicians recommending physical activity to patients with asthma, alongside traditional pharmacological treatments”, he concluded.