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GPs advised to encourage patients with asthma to exercise

Getting patients with asthma to exercise regularly helped to curb the severity of their symptoms and improved their quality of life, a small study has shown.

The study, published in Thorax, included 58 adult patients with moderate to severe asthma, all of whom were given Yoga breathing exercises to do twice a week for three months, while half also ran on a treadmill for 35 minutes twice a week.

By the end of the study, bronchial hyper-responsiveness had fallen among patients who ran twice a week, to the extent they could tolerate twice the dose of histamine trigger that they could before the study – whereas the group that only did the Yoga breathing exercises had no change in their response to histamine.

Patients who exercised also had reductions in their levels of certain cytokines, while they had more symptom-free days and fewer bouts of worsening symptoms by the end of the study.

Fifteen of the exercise patients had clinically significant improvements in quality of life scores, and there was a significant overall difference in scores between the two groups.

The researchers concluded: ‘These results suggest that adding exercise as an adjunct therapy to pharmacological treatment could improve the main features of asthma.’

Current, gold-standard guidelines on the management of asthma from SIGN, published last year, state that there is insufficient evidence to recommend physical exercise for asthma itself – although they recommended that ‘as physical training improves indices of cardiopulmonary efficiency, it should be seen as part of a general approach to improving lifestyle and rehabilitations in people with asthma, with appropriate precautions advised about exercise induced asthma’.

Thorax 2015; available online 10 June 2015



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