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Physical activity improves asthma control

Presented by
Morten Hostrup, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
NLC 2022
Being active is important for everyone, even more so for people suffering from lung disease. Regular exercise – tailored to the specific needs of patients – can help maintain a good level of overall health and may also improve signs and symptoms of a lung condition. Although it can be challenging to prescribe exercise to asthma patients, physical activity proves to be a valuable intervention as it improves asthma control. However, people should not overdo it, as excessive vigorous training increases the risk of developing asthma and asthma-related conditions – as found among elite athletes.

Dr Morten Hostrup (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) emphasised that people with asthma should be physically active. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of 11 randomised-controlled trials assessing the effects of aerobic exercise training for 8 weeks or longer showed that this type of exercise (including walking, jogging, spinning, and treadmill running) can potentially improve asthma control and lung function. However, it has no effect on airway inflammation [1].” Exercise combined with a high protein/low glycaemic index diet in non-obese asthma patients improves asthma control compared with diet only or exercise only. Nevertheless, this combination does not affect airway hyperresponsiveness or airway inflammation [2]. Dr Hostrup also pointed out that aerobic exercise training effectively improves disease outcomes in obese asthma and that this effect may be more pronounced in women. For those asthma patients wishing to engage in vigorous training such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Dr Hostrup stated that they can safely do so, but should keep a short-acting beta-2 agonist nearby. “High-intensity interval training has demonstrated to effectively improve maximal oxygen consumption and peak power output in asthma patients who are untrained, regardless of the individual levels of asthma control, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), and airway hyperresponsiveness [3,4].”

  1. Hansen ESH, et al. Eur Respir J. 2020;56(1):2000146.
  2. Toennessen LL, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018;6(3):803–811.
  3. Toennessen LL, et al. Eur Clin Respir J. 2018;5(1):1468714.
  4. Hostrup M. Exercise adaptations and prescriptions in Asthma. Nordic Lung Congress 2022, 01–03 June, Copenhagen, Denmark.


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