Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are 235 million people currently suffering from asthma around the world. India has an estimated 15-20 million asthmatics and 15% of them die every year.
Even though asthma has no cure, health experts globally are making an attempt to improve cardiac fitness by simultaneously working on the heart and lungs to stabilize asthmatic patients. Health experts suggest that the best cardio exercises for asthmatics include walking, biking, swimming, jogging and aerobics.
Dr.Vikas Maurya, head of the department of respiratory medicine, interventional pulmonology, allergy and sleep disorders at B.L.K. hospital, said, "It has been found that those patient who regularly do cardio exercises are able to reduce respiratory problems caused by asthma. Cardio-exercise requires a lot muscle movement and raises the heart rate to at least 50%. Some of the benefits include decreased blood pressure, increased good cholesterol, decreased body fat, improved blood flow to the active muscles and helps to increase the heart and lung function. As it improves lung function, it is beneficial for asthma patients."
Deepak Khurana, director, cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at Rockland group of hospitals, said, "However, as it's not easy for an asthmatic to undertake physical activities, the success rate of cardio-workouts depends on the exercise tolerance in asthmatic patients which is related to the patient's lung function capacity. Patients who are diagnosed early or at a young age benefit more as they have improved lung function, reduced respiratory symptoms, and the threshold of exercise at which patient feels breathless is increased. At a later stage patients are usually out of shape, they have less muscle mass and also asthma usually has had progressed to a higher stage requiring large number and increased doses of medications. Patients should be counseled before suggesting exercises. They should be told to gradually increase the level and not instantly start with heavy activities."
Brijesh Paul of Kolkata-based Downtown Hospital said, "It was important for asthma patients to keep inhalers in easy reach prior to starting their workouts. The more the patient works out, the better exercise-induced asthma gets. Patients may start with lower-intensity activities like swimming, walking, and so forth and work their way up over time."