Publish Date: 
Wednesday, August 17, 2022 - 14:15

New world-first Australian study finds link between moderate exercise and improved asthma 

Australian researchers have found moderate exercise could reduce some forms of asthma.

Prior to this trial, the effect of exercise intensity on lung inflammation had not been investigated in people with asthma.

Led by the University of Newcastle’s Dr Hayley Scott and TRI-based Professor John Upham from UQ Diamantina Institute and Metro South Health, researchers conducted a randomised trial involving 56 inactive adult participants with asthma, who took part in a 45-minute bout of moderate or vigorous exercise.

They found moderate exercise, as opposed to vigorous exercise levels in the trial participants, reduced airway inflammation in people with asthma, which could help to improve their overall health.

People with asthma who have lots of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in their lungs and blood benefit most from the exercise activity, according to the study’s findings.

“The biggest benefit we saw in the moderate group was in the actual changing of the cells, the inflammation in their lungs, which went down compared to before they started the exercise,” Professor Upham said.

“It’s really interesting what might be the cause, which could be related to hormones and other proteins that get released by the muscles, that somehow have a beneficial effect in the lung. An area we’d like to explore further.”

The study also showed the effects of moderate exercise vary in different types of asthma.

Its initial findings pave the way for more research to examine the impact of exercise training at different intensities on inflammation and clinical asthma outcomes.

Professor Upham said future research could also help boost public health messaging around exercise and asthma. Fears of exercise triggering asthma attacks prevents some sufferers from being active, and COVID-19 has increased their concerns.

“We hope with future research we can develop some tailored advice to help people with asthma take a healthy approach to exercise,” Professor Upham said.

The study has been published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society Journal.

Professor Upham will be supporting further research led by Dr Scott into the data and interrelationship between diet and exercise as part of healthier lifestyles.