Exercise can benefit asthma sufferers

September 1-7 is Asthma Australia’s Asthma Week

One in nine people in Australia have asthma and it affects people of all ages.

Some asthma sufferers avoid exercise because it can inflame their condition.

However, recent research is finding that some kinds of exercise can actually help prevent or reduce the symptoms of asthma.


A recent study by Professor John Upham at the University of Queensland and Dr Hayley Scott at the University of Newcastle found that moderate intensity exercise reduces inflammation in the airways in previously inactive asthma sufferers.

“Even though we have known about the general health benefits of exercise for a long time,” said Professor Upham, “we are starting to see evidence that exercise is also good for asthma as it helps reduce inflammation in the air passages”.

This study found that a moderate-intensity exercise session reduced inflammation for up to four hours afterwards. However, the same was not found for more vigorous intensity exercise.

“It seems that moderate exercise is better than intense exercise,” said Professor Upham, “though more information is needed to define the ideal amount of exercise in asthma”.

This backs up previous research on non-asthma sufferers, which has found that in healthy people, moderate-intensity exercise is anti-inflammatory while higher-intensity exercise may worsen it.

Professors Upham and Scott are also currently working on research around the effects of three months of consistent exercise training on asthma symptoms and quality of life.


Scott, H., Wood, L. and Upham, J. (2018). ‘A single bout of moderate-intensity exercise reduces eosinophilic airway inflammation in inactive adults with asthma, while vigorous-intensity exercise has no effect.’ ANZSRS/TSANZ Annual Scientific Meeting, Adelaide, Australia, 23-27 March 2018. Richmond, VIC, Australia: Wiley-Blackwell. https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:726279

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