"It's safe for patients with asthma to exercise regularly," according to lead reviewer Felix S.F. Ram, M.D., of Massey University in New Zealand. "In our study, those who did showed an increased ability to take up oxygen. They improved their ventilation, which led to improved cardiopulmonary fitness. We found no evidence to suggest that regular exercise worsens asthmatic symptoms. There's no reason for people with asthma to avoid regular physical activity."
The systematic review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.
Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.
The review combines results from 13 studies, which together involved 455 participants above age 8 who had asthma. All were randomized controlled trials involving 20- to 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions done two to three times weekly for at least four weeks.
A significant effect occurred with physical training on four measures: maximum ventilation the patient can achieve, maximal oxygen uptake, work capacity and maximum heart rate.
Exercise did not bring about a significant effect in other measures such as expiratory air-flow rate, expiratory volume and days of wheezing.
The researchers found no usable data on bronchodilator drug usage, exercise endurance, walking distance or quality of life.
"Achieving a normal lifestyle are realistic goals for most people with asthma," said Gail Shapiro, M.D., a professor with the University of Washington School of Medicine. "Normal exercise tolerance is an important element of this. People with asthma almost
Contact: Felix S.F. Ram
Center for the Advancement of Health