Exercise: a new tool in asthma management


Research presented at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) congress 2011 in Istanbul by Professor Stefano Del Giacco of the University of Cagliari, Italy, shows that the severity and likelihood of asthma attacks can be reduced by regular aerobic activity.

Exercise has been thought to exacerbate asthma symptoms, but in this study Professor Del Giacco has shown that as long as the exercise remains moderate, it is beneficial. Using an Italian Premier League football team as an example of training on a regular basis, Professor Del Giacco tested the team three times over the whole football season. He found that their blood showed a lower than average allergic response indicating a reduced chance of allergy from the regular exercise. The reasons for the efficacy of regular exercise may be that levels of certain immune molecules responsible for bronchial inflammation are reduced, and levels of molecules that protect against it are raised. Being overweight can also increase chances of an asthma attack, and regular exercise can help to keep the weight off.

It is known that rapid breathing that happens when we exercise can induce an asthma attack – in tests it takes approximately 5-8 minutes of rapid breathing to bring on an attack – which means choosing the right sport for you is important. Low risk sports include short and middle distance track events and the 100m sprint, medium risk sports are football and basketball, and high risk sports would be competitive cycling and marathon running. Careful asthma management with drugs and mild exercise can be important for children whose exercise can sometimes be curbed because running around at playtime could bring on an asthma attack.

Professor Del Giacco concludes that mild exercise be recommended to asthmatics as part of their management program, particularly as it can not only improve asthma, but also keep the weight off and improve the immune system.

Source: European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology


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First Published in June 2011

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