By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter
Research from Sweden shows that while people with asthma are as likely to be mildly active or inactive as people without, there is a strong relationship between vigorous physical activity and the respiratory condition.
Reporting in Respiratory Medicine, the researchers say that equivalent activity observed among people with and without asthma is likely due to the increasing guideline recognition of the importance of exercise for patients with asthma, whereas in the past they were cautioned against it.
“Our result suggests that asthma is not a significant obstacle to the general physical activity in the Swedish population,” comment Christer Janson (Uppsala University, Sweden) and team.
However, this level of activity was not especially high, with 58% of 23,780 participants without asthma reporting that they did not achieve recommended levels of activity. Similarly, neither did 57% of 1830 patients with asthma who completed the same questionnaire.
But, after adjusting for confounders, there was a significantly higher proportion of vigorously active people (active ≥twice and ≥7 hours per week) in the asthma group compared with the group without asthma. In multivariate analysis, vigorous physical activity independently predicted a 40% increased odds for asthma, while being inactive (active ≤once per month), slightly, or moderately active (active ≥twice and ≥2 hours per week) bore no relation to asthma status.
Being vigorously active was also independently associated with a 39% increased odds for wheezing, a 68% increased odds for wheezing and breathlessness, and a 39% increased odds for wheezing without having a cold.
The team also reports that nearly 20% of the study population was classified as physically inactive, taking exercise once a month or less. These people had a higher body mass index, were more likely to be smokers or ex-smokers, and have diabetes and high blood pressure than other participants.
“Thus, this group of subjects needs attention and advice in becoming more physically active,” the authors comment.
Janson and colleagues say that their findings suggest that vigorous activity may have a negative effect on asthma symptoms and wheezing. And, although they also indicate that asthma should be no barrier to physical activity per se, “[h]ealth care professionals should, however, be aware of the increased prevalence of asthma in vigorously physically active subjects.”
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