How exercise interventions could help people with asthma

Published by  News Archive

On 7th Jan 2022

A woman at an outdoor group exercise class stretches her arms

Interventions aimed at promoting physical activity in people with asthma could improve their symptoms and quality of life – according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Researchers looked at whether interventions such as aerobic and strength or resistance training, had helped participants with asthma.

Although they found that these interventions worked, patients with asthma may have had difficulty undertaking them because of their difficulty travelling to fitness groups or because the interventions were not suitable for people with additional health conditions.

But the team say that digital interventions – such as video appointments, smartwatches and mobile apps – could remove some of these barriers and enable patients to carry out home-based programmes in future.

Prof Andrew Wilson, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Being physically active is widely recommended for people with asthma. Doing more than 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity has extensive benefits including improved lung function and asthma control.

“But research has shown that people living with asthma engage in less physical activity and are more sedentary than people without asthma.

“We wanted to find out whether interventions - such as being asked to perform aerobic exercise a few times a week in group sessions, together with ‘goal setting’ - are effective in helping people with asthma be more active.”

The team studied interventions that were designed to promote physical activity in adults with asthma. They looked at 25 separate studies from around the world involving 1,849 participants with asthma, to see whether their symptoms and quality of life were changed thanks to the interventions.

Postgraduate researcher Leanne Tyson, also from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “We found that interventions that promote physical activity had significant benefits in terms of increasing physical activity, decreasing time spent sedentary, improving quality of life, and decreasing asthma symptoms.

“This is really important because helping patients make significant behaviour changes could really improve their outcomes in the long term.

“Our review also highlights the potential use of digital interventions, which were notably absent.

“This is important now more than ever as patients have not been able to attend face-to-face support during the Covid-19 pandemic, and services will likely become overwhelmed. Therefore, alternative interventions and methods of delivery need to be considered.”

This study was funded by the Asthma UK Centre For Applied Research.

A Systematic Review of the Characteristics of Interventions that Promote Physical Activity in Adults with Asthma’ is published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

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