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Study: Exercise improves asthma in obese adults

(Reuters Health) – Exercise training helps improve daily life for obese adults with asthma, a new study found.

Patients who exercised had improvements in physical activity, asthma-symptom-free days, depression symptoms, and sleep apnea, researchers found out.

The three-month program targeted both weight loss and exercise through aerobic and resistance training, the study authors wrote in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

“In the past, exercise was seen as harmful to asthmatic patients because they’d have a reaction to the exercise and airways would narrow,” said senior study author Dr. Celso Carvalho of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. “However, we’ve learned that exercise can be good for asthma patients and even better for those who are obese.”

“Exercise can actually reduce airway inflammation with these patients,” Carvalho told Reuters Health by phone.

Carvalho and colleagues randomly assigned 55 obese adults with asthma to participate either in a weight-loss program with exercise, including aerobic training and weightlifting, or a weight-loss program that focused on nutrition, psychological therapies, and breathing and stretching exercises.

After two sessions per week for three months, people in the weight loss and exercise training group had increased their step count by more than 3,000 steps per day, compared to about 730 steps per day in the group that didn’t get exercise training.

In addition, the exercise group had about 15 asthma-symptom-free days per month, on average, compared to about nine days per month for the control group.

The exercise group also had greater improvements in depression symptoms, sleep quality, and obstructive sleep apnea.

“Both groups experienced some benefit, but the exercise really upped the results,” Carvalho said. “We believe exercise altogether improves self-esteem, which helps with less depressive symptoms and also sleeping better.”