Research has revolutionised the lives of people with asthma


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How much exercise is best for asthma?

 7 May 2019

On World Asthma Day today, Asthma Australia is sharing new research findings into how much exercise is best for asthma, in a bid to encourage people with asthma to get winter well. Keeping healthy and well during winter and flu season is a key priority for the 2.7 million people who have asthma in Australia.  

The nation’s peak body Asthma Australia says being prepared for winter meant more than taking prescribed preventer medication and getting the flu shot, even though these are key steps to take. Healthy lifestyle factors and living environments can have an enormous role to play.

A new research study into exercise and asthma led by Professor John Upham at the University of Queensland and Dr Hayley Scott at the University of Newcastle is proving that exercise can reduce inflammation in the lungs of people with asthma.

Suzanne Climan_StudyParticipant_creditNewcastleWeekly_2MB

Exercise research study participant Suzanne Climan of Newcastle is seeing an improvement in her asthma.

Prof John Upham said moderate exercise during winter months is a good thing for asthma. Some people with asthma have avoided exercise in the past because it made them wheezy, but this can usually be prevented with a good warm up and the right medications.

“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”.  

Exercise intensity may be crucial however. “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 research hopes to determine what exercise offers the greatest benefits to people with asthma and to contribute to more meaningful exercise guidelines. Asthma Australia spokesperson Jo Williams said the benefits of being winter well meant less medical expenses and more vitality.

“Having asthma can be an extra complication and cost in winter. It’s worsened by colds and flu plus other factors like cold dry air,” Ms Williams said. “Winter sees an annual surge in asthma hospitalisations so we’ve developed a Winter Well checklist to cover all bases for asthma,” she said.

The Asthma Australia Winter Well checklist outlines everything a person with asthma should think about this winter. To find the check list, click here.

If cost is a barrier to your asthma management, speak to your GP before winter for advice on how to minimise the cost of your asthma medications. To speak to an asthma educator if asthma is impacting you or your family, phone the free 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462) during business hours.



For more information contact or interview opportunities

PR Manager

Teresa Vella


m. 0403 895 144


About the study

John Upham; improving asthma through lifestyle interventions, how much exercise is best?

Research has shown that in healthy people, moderate-intensity exercise is anti-inflammatory while vigorous-intensity exercise is thought to worsen inflammation. Despite asthma being a chronic inflammatory disease, the effects of exercise intensity on airway inflammation for people with asthma have not been investigated. This research hopes to determine what exercise offers the greatest benefits to people with asthma and to contribute to more meaningful exercise guidelines.

The research consists of two studies, firstly investigating the impact of once-off moderate and vigorous intensity exercise on airway inflammation in people with asthma. Preliminary results suggest that in the most inactive participants with asthma, a once of moderate-intensity exercise session reduced inflammation for 4 hours post exercise. The same affect was not observed for vigorous intensity exercise, suggesting the anti-inflammatory benefits are only observable after moderate-intensity exercise.

The second study will investigate the influence of three months of exercise training on asthma symptoms and quality of life. This study is ongoing and expected to be completed in late 2019.

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