The review by lead author Kristin Carson, a doctoral student specializing in respiratory medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, also showed that, contrary to fears that patients and parents of asthmatic children sometimes have, exercise does not generally worsen the condition.
The researchers included 21 randomized, controlled studies fir their analysis. All the participants engaged in whole body aerobic exercise, such as using a treadmill or swimming, lasting 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times weekly.
Participants tolerated the exercise well, suffering no adverse effects due to the exertion. None of the study participants experienced worse symptoms after participation.
The training programs improved the subjects' cardiopulmonary fitness, as measured by an increase in their maximum level of oxygen intake. Generally, the team found that the asthma patients involved in the studies responded to physical training in a similar manner to people without asthma.
The new review also found some evidence that the exercise programs contributed to an improved quality of life (QOL),which may include improved mental health and a enhanced psychosocial wellbeing.
Carson emphasized that this review shows that exercise does not worsen asthma symptoms and, "There is little to no reason that patients with asthma should not fully participate in regular physical activity, provided that preventative medications for those with exercise-induced asthma have been administered properly."
The study is published in The Cochrane Library.