Asthma symptoms can be improved by diet and exercise in non-obese patients

Published online: November 10, 2017

Recent studies suggest that exercise, combined with a healthy diet, could help patients with asthma gain better control of their asthma symptoms. However, such studies have only focused on obese patients with asthma.

The study by Toennesen and colleagues recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is a randomized controlled parallel group trial including 149 non-obese patients with asthma who were randomly assigned to one of four groups. One group was asked to follow a diet that was high in protein and with a low glycaemic index (GI). A low GI diet is one that maintains the right levels of sugar in the blood.

Another group took part in exercise classes three times a week at the hospital. These classes included bursts of high intensity activity designed to raise the heart rate, interspersed with less vigorous activity. The third group took part in the exercise classes and followed the diet, while the remaining control group did neither. The intervention period was eight weeks.

On average, patients in the combined diet and exercise group rated their asthma symptom score 50% better at follow-up examinations compared to the control group. Those patients who only followed either the exercise programme or the diet programme on average rated their asthma symptom score 30% better compared to the control group, but this result did not reach statistical significance. No definite improvement in patients’ lung function, airway inflammation or hyperresponsiveness were observed.

This study is one of the largest behavioural intervention studies of diet and exercise in asthma to date, and suggests that that exercise combined with a healthy diet can help patients control their asthma symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life, although it does not affect measurements of airway inflammation or airway hyperresponsiveness.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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