Exercise as it relates to Disease/Exercise used to reduce asthmatic symptoms
Asthma is a chronic pulmonary disease that affects the airs and greatly impairs lung  and breathing function though the inflammation and narrowing of airways within the lungs causing difficultly with inspiration and expiration. Asthma is a condition that can affect anyone at any stage of life and is primarily thought to be inherited genetically or caused by the environment such as air born irritants like allergens and heavy pollution.
The prevalence of asthma within Australia alone affects about 10% of the population, approximately 2.26 million. Annually asthma is accountable for approximately 300-450 deaths each year, mortality significantly decreasing within the past 30 years buy 68%. Although mortality is relatively low for a chronic disease with an ever decreasing prevalence, asthma still accounted for (in 2006) 1.2% of health care expenses, equalling over 606million dollars.
- Coughing (uncontrollable)
- Wheezing with inspiration and expiration
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain and tightness
- Very rapid breathing
- Difficulty speaking
- Anxiety/ panic
- Parts of the body turning blue (lack of Oxygen)
- Sweaty clammy skin
How exercise reduces asthmatic symptoms
The main way in which the severity of asthmatic symptoms are reduced though exercise is by improving the effectiveness of the airways , allowing greater expiration thus reducing symptoms that’s directly relate to expiration in particular wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain, essentially regulating breathing to a more normal state.
Long term In relation to long term reductions in symptoms exercise is beneficial in terms of lifestyle and body composition issues that may amplify asthmatic symptoms over a space of months or even years.
Body composition: A major factor that contributes to asthma as well as enhancing symptoms is obesity and carrying excess weight. A long term adaption to exercise would be the muscles ability to uptake oxygen more efficiently, effectively meaning the body needs less oxygen to operate thus lowing breathing and heart rate, reducing symptoms related to chest pain and tightness and shortness of breath. A loss in weight would show a similar reduction in asthmatic symptoms simply by having less muscle mass for oxygen to travel to throughout the body. :
Lifestyle: Assuming long term exercise strategies coincide with healthy lifestyle habits, asthmatic symptoms can be dramatically reduced. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, high fat diets, increased intake of processed foods and low levels of antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables greatly enhances the prevalence of asthma along with symptoms related to constricted air ways like wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. A reduction in these unhealthy habits would usually result via the implementation of a long term exercise program as healthy lifestyle choices is often a side effect to increased physical activity and exercise.
Short term: The short term effects on the reduction of asthmatic symptoms relate to the function of the lung and airways. The main measurable lung functions that show improvements after exercise compared to non-exercise Is the amount of air that expelled at once (forced expiratory volume = FEV), lung volume (forced vital capacity FVC) and maximum expiration flow (MEF) . Through moderate intensity exercise improvements amongst FEV, FVC and MEF all indicate the lungs and airways are performing at a higher and more efficient level. Of particular importance, an improvement in vital capacity means the lung taking in more air and able to expel it with little obstruction form swollen air ways thus reducing the symptoms of wheezing and irregular rapid breathing.
Types of exercise
The best types of exercise to reduce asthmatic symptoms are low to medium intensity activities that involve larger muscle groups. These activities include:
- Swimming (very low impact) although can be an issue due to restricted breathing.
- Jogging/ walking
And most other activities or forms of exercise that can be performed at a lower intensity, usually around 40-60% max heart rate** Max heart rate =(220-age)
- Asthma suffering looking to reduce asthmatic symptoms should participate in exercise and activity at 40-60% max heart rate
- The best types of exercises are activities that can be performed at low to medium intensity and active large muscle groups.
- Swimming is a good low impact activity but should be performed with caution due to breathing restrictions.
- Asthma is predominantly genetically inherited but can be brought on by the environment through pollution and other air born particles and allergens inflaming airways.
- Long term exercise used to reduce asthmatic symptoms should be coupled with a healthy lifestyle in order to optimise results.
For general information about what increases the risk of asthma visit : http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/Causes.aspx
Spreading the awareness of asthma: http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/
General over view of asthma: http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/topic/asthma
- R, Helenius Asthma, Airway Inflammation and Treatment in Elite Athletes Sports Medicine 2005, Vol. 35 Issue 7, p565
- What is asthma? Causes’2013 http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/Causes.aspx
- Asthma News and media’ 2013 http://www.nationalasthma.org.au
- Asthma Overview Last reviewed: February, 2013 http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/topic/asthma
- Lund, T Prevalence of asthma-like symptoms, asthma and its treatment in elite athletes Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports Apr2009, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p174
- mendes Effect of Brief Exercise on Airway Blood Flow in Subjects With and Without Asthma’ Mendes,Journal of Exercise Physiology Online Oct2012, Vol. 15 Issue 5, p10
- Robert W Airway Response during Exercise and Hyperpnoea in Non-Asthmatic and Asthmatic Individuals Sports Medicine 2006, Vol. 36 Issue 6, p513
- K. Specjalski PREVALENCE OF ASTHMA SYMPTOMS IN ATHLETES Biology of Sport 2009, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p275
- S, Basaran EFFECTS OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE ON QUALITY OF LIFE, EXERCISE CAPACITY AND PULMONARY FUNCTION IN CHILDREN WITH ASTHMA Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine (Taylor & Francis Ltd) Mar2006, Vol. 38 Issue 2, p130
- Asthma and exercise Last updated 04/10/2013 http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Asthma_and_exercise