Researchers at the Bispebjerg University Hospital, in Copenhagen, worked with a group of 149 non-obese patients who were assigned to one of four groups.
One group followed a diet high in protein and with a low glycaemic index (low GI) and at least six portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
The second group took part in exercise classes three times a week. The classes varied from low to high intensity activities.
The third group took part in exercise classes and followed the diet, while the remaining control group did neither. A total of 125 people remained in the study for the full eight weeks.
The researchers questioned patients about their asthma symptoms and quality of life, as well as testing their fitness, and the strength and output of their lungs.
Those who underwent both diet and exercise changes rated their asthma symptom score 50 percent better compared to the control group. Those who followed either the diet or exercise programme on average rated their asthma symptom score 30 percent better than the control group.
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Policy and Research at Asthma UK, said: “Some people with asthma feel anxious about exercising because it can make them feel breathless or trigger asthma attacks, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to take part in physical activities. In fact, as this study suggests, if you have asthma a healthy lifestyle can improve your quality of life.
“The central principles of a healthy lifestyle – exercising regularly, keeping your weight healthy and stopping smoking – can all benefit your asthma as well as your wider health. As long as you’re looking after your asthma well, and your symptoms are under control, you can enjoy any type of exercise.”
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