A recent study revealed that a combination of healthy diet and exercise may improve asthma symptoms in just two months. As part of the research, Danish health experts monitored 125 asthma patients who took lifestyle interventions for eight weeks.
The findings revealed that patients who underwent exercise classes three times a week and followed a low-glycemic index diet that was rich in protein, fruit, and vegetables exhibited a 50 percent reduction in asthma symptoms. Participants who merely modified either their diet or exercise levels, but not both, displayed a 30 percent decline in symptoms of asthma.
In contrast, patients in the non-intervention control group did not show significant improvements in disease markers.
“There is increasing evidence that asthma patients who are obese can benefit from a better diet and increased exercise. We wanted to see if non-obese patients with asthma could also benefit. Our study suggests that non-obese asthma patients can safely take part in well-planned, high-intensity exercise. It also shows that exercise combined with a healthy diet can help patients control their asthma symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life…These are important findings since we know that not all patients have good control over their symptoms and consequently can have a lower quality of life. We also know that many patients are interested in whether they can improve their asthma control with exercise and a healthy diet. Our research suggests that people with asthma should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to take part in physical activity,” study leader Dr. Louise Toennesen told the Daily Mail online.
Dr. Samantha Walker, Director of Policy at Asthma U.K., noted that some asthma patients tend to feel anxious about the prospect of working out as strenuous activities may lead to breathlessness and induce asthma attacks.
However, the doctor stressed that, “there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to take part in physical activities. The central principles of a healthy lifestyle – exercising regularly, keeping your weight healthy and stopping smoking – can all benefit your asthma as well as your wider health. As long as you’re looking after your asthma well, and your symptoms are under control, you can enjoy any type of exercise.”
The findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan.
Potential implications in asthma intervention
The recent findings show potential especially with today’s worsening asthma rates.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that about 253 million people around the world are diagnosed with asthma. The WHO also stressed that the disease remains to be the most common form of chronic disease among children.
According to the WHO, asthma occurs in all countries regardless of their income bracket. In fact, the disease continues to be a major public health problem in high-income countries. The international health organization also stressed that 80 percent of asthma-related deaths occur in low and lower-middle income countries.
The WHO added that asthma remains to be under-diagnosed and under-treated, which in turn creates substantial burdens to both the patients and their families. The disease may also place restrictions on an individual’s activities for a lifetime, the agency said. (Related: Did a plant-based diet cure this man’s asthma?)
In addition, data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) revealed that more than six million children and more than 18 million adults in the U.S. currently have asthma. According to the CDC, these rates account for 8.4 percent of the total pediatric population and 7.6 percent of the total adult population in the country.
The CDC also stressed that asthma was accounted for 6.5 percent of all office-based physician visits and about 1.6 million emergency department trips across the U.S. The total number of asthma-related deaths in the U.S. was more than 3,600 per year, the health agency said.