Effects of exercise on lung function in patients with asthma

Exercise can significantly improve symptoms and quality of life for asthma patients, researchers in the Asthma and Allergy Diary.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis regarding the effects of exercise in asthma patients, the intervention effects of different exercises on the ratio of forced expiratory volume in the first second percent predicted (FEV1PP) and the quality of life.

A literature search of 8 Chinese and English databases up to November 1, 2021 yielded 18 articles on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing symptom indicators of asthma patients. In total, the RCTs had 530 patients in the experimental group and 491 participants in the control group.

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The primary outcomes were pulmonary function index (the ratio of FEV11 at the normal predicted value) and the total scores of the Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire and the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire.

For the meta-analysis regarding the effects of exercise on lung function in patients with asthma, 16 articles (18 studies) with FEV1PP indicators were included. High heterogeneity was observed in each study, so the random-effects model was used for analysis. The pooled effect was mean difference (MD) = 4.81 (95% CI, 1.57-8.05; P <.05 suggesting that an exercise intervention could significantly improve patients lung function.>

Regarding the effects of physical exercise on quality of life, 9 articles with high heterogeneity were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled effect was MD=0.84 (95% CI, -0.29-1.97; P >.05), indicating that physical exercise could improve the quality of life of asthma patients, although no statistical significance was observed.

Subgroup analyzes showed that aerobic exercise had a significantly greater effect on FEV1PP compared to combined exercise and free exercise, and the source of heterogeneity between studies was most likely the breathing exercise or an intervention duration of at least 60 minutes.

Among several study limitations, the analysis focused only on FEV1PP lung function and quality of life scores. Additionally, the lack of blinding may have affected the results.

“Current evidence from the included literature suggests that exercise interventions positively improve FEV1PP lung function and quality of life scores in patients with asthma,” the study authors concluded. “Different types of exercise also have different effects on asthma patients. Exercises that contain respiratory training and aerobic exercise have a greater effect on FEV1PP. These interventions may serve as a cost-effective and easy-to-implement method as adjunctive treatment.


Zhu Q, Zhu J, Wang X, Xu Q. A meta-analysis of exercise on improving lung function and quality of life in patients with asthma. J Asthma Allergy. Published online July 13, 2022. doi:10.2147/JAA.S369811

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