New exercise guidelines for asthma patients

31 August, 2011

Asthmatics will be better informed of safe and effective exercise with a new position statement released to coincide with National Asthma Week (September 1-7).

Developed by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) the Exercise and Asthma position statement published in Sports Medicine Australia’s Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, aims to provide guidelines for exercise and health professionals, around safe and effective exercise prescription and supervision of patients with asthma.

Asthma is defined as a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways provoked by many triggers including exercise.

Currently over two million Australians, will experience bronchoconstriction and wheezing provoked by prolonged exercise, which is referred to as ‘exercise induced asthma’.

This newly created position statement offers guidance on appropriate exercise intervention for those with asthma.

"In combination with appropriately prescribed medication, regular exercise should be encouraged for all asthmatics," said Dr Ian Gillam, an accredited exercise physiologist and ESSA spokesperson.

"Because exercise can result in bronchoconstriction, and wheezing, some asthmatics avoid exercise which results in low aerobic fitness and in the long term, an increased risk in developing obesity, and other chronic diseases associated with inactivity.

"However, by following their individualised asthma management program, developed in conjunction with the asthmatic’s physician, an asthmatic can lead a full and active life.

"Exercise programs should be individually tailored and follow the guidelines outlined in the Position Statement which will result in similar health benefits to those obtained by non-asthmatics," said Dr Ian Gillam.

The new guidelines recommend that for most asthmatic patients; exercise should last between 20 and 60 minutes, 3-5 times a week. Team sports that require a short intermittent bursts of activity are  recommended to  severe asthmatics, as these activities have been shown to reduce asthma symptoms. Swimming is also an excellent activity as it elicits less brochoconstriction and produces excellent benefits for the cardio respiratory system.

As long as their asthma is under good control, asthmatics should be encouraged to participate in the types of exercise they enjoy, to ensure continued participation.

The Exercise and Asthma position statement and the full exercise guidelines have been published in Sports Medicine Australia’s Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

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Source: Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA)