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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Feasibility of exercising adults with asthma: a randomized pilot study

Amy Boyd1, Celeste T Yang2, Kim Estell3, Craig Tuggle MS3, Lynn B Gerald4, Mark Dransfield56, Marcas Bamman3, James Bonner1, T Prescott Atkinson1 and Lisa M Schwiebert356*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama, 1918 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL, 35294-0005, USA

2 Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama, 1918 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL, 35294-0005, USA

3 Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, University of Alabama, 1918 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL, 35294-0005, USA

4 The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

5 UAB Lung Health Center, University of Alabama, 1918 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL, 35294-0005, USA

6 Department of Medicine, University of Alabama, 1918 University Boulevard, Birmingham, AL, 35294-0005, USA

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Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2012, 8:13  doi:10.1186/1710-1492-8-13

Published: 3 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Aerobic exercise appears to have clinical benefits for many asthmatics, yet a complete understanding of the mechanisms underlying these benefits has not been elucidated at this time.

Purpose

The objective of this study was to determine feasibility for a larger, future study that will define the effect of aerobic exercise on cellular, molecular, and functional measures in adults with mild-moderate asthma.

Design

Recruited subjects were randomized into usual care (sedentary) or usual care with moderate intensity aerobic exercise treatment groups.

Setting / Participants

Nineteen adults with mild-moderate asthma but without a recent history of exercise were recruited at the UAB Lung Health Center, Birmingham, AL.

Intervention

The exercise group underwent a 12 week walking program exercising at 60 – 75% of maximum heart rate (HRmax). Subjects self-monitored HRmax levels using heart rate monitors; exercise diaries and recreation center sign-in logs were also used.

Main outcome measures

Functional measures, including lung function and asthma control scores, were evaluated for all subjects at pre- and post-study time-points; fitness measures were also assessed for subjects in the exercise group. Peripheral blood and nasal lavage fluid were collected from all subjects at pre- and post-study visits in order to evaluate cellular and molecular measures, including cell differentials and eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP).

Results

Sixteen subjects completed the prescribed protocol. Results show that subjects randomized to the exercise group adhered well (80%) to the exercise prescription and exhibited a trend toward improved fitness levels upon study completion. Both groups exhibited improvements in ACQ scores. No changes were observed in lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC), cell differentials, or ECP between groups.

Conclusions

Results indicate that a moderate intensity aerobic exercise training program may improve asthma control and fitness levels without causing asthma deterioration in adult asthmatics. As such, these findings demonstrate the feasibility of the study protocol in preparation for a larger, clinical trial that will elucidate the functional consequences of aerobic exercise on asthmatic cellular and molecular responses.