Although it is known that promoting physical activity can improve asthma symptoms and quality of life – and is even recommended in asthma guidelines – such behavior change is often difficult in due to lack of funding or reimbursement for pulmonary rehabilitation or for other reasons.

A recent review sought to understand the effectiveness of interventions that promote physical activity in patients with asthma and to identify the behavior change techniques (BBTs) and other components used.

Although it is known that promoting physical activity can improve asthma symptoms and quality of life – and is even recommended in asthma guidelines – such behavior change is often difficult in due to lack of funding or reimbursement for pulmonary rehabilitation or for other reasons.

In this study, researchers investigated whether aerobics and strength or resistance training helped participants with asthma.

Extensive searches were conducted of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus and the Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials. The search was limited to studies of adults, in the English language, and published from 1990. The search was conducted in August 2020 and 25 studies met the inclusion criteria.

Of the 25 studies, involving 1849 participants, 10 of them reported significant improvements in:

  • Increased physical activity (8 out of 10 studies)
  • Decreased time spent sedentary (2 out of 3 studies)
  • Improve quality of life (10 of 16 studies)
  • Reduced asthma symptoms (9 out of 11 studies)

Interventions consisted of in-person aerobic exercise and/or strength/resistance training 2 or 3 times per week for 30 to 60 minutes, with or possibly without an instructor. Some were individual sessions and others were in groups, or used a combination of both.

“However, we cannot say with certainty that these intervention components increased efficacy because the components were similar in all interventions regardless of efficacy,” the researchers reported.

Additionally, they reported that “due to the similarities of the BCTs used in all intervention and control groups, it was not possible to identify specific BCTs that showed promise of efficacy.”

The most commonly used BCTs were action planning, goal setting, activity instruction and demonstration, and activity practice and repetition.

No evidence was found showing a positive effect on asthma control (6 of 12 studies) and medication use (2 of 8 studies).

Future interventions should focus on maintaining behavior change, the researchers said.

In one declarationthe researchers said digital interventions could remove barriers such as travel or the impact of the pandemic.

The study, funded by the Asthma UK Center For Applied Research, was published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

Reference

Tyson L, Hardeman W, Marquette M, Semlyen J, Stratton G, Wilson AM. A systematic review of the characteristics of interventions that promote physical activity in adults with asthma. J from Health Psychol. Published online December 29, 2022. doi:10.1177/13591053211059386