Eating well and getting fit can help people reduce the symptoms of asthma, researchers have found.
Exercising three times a week and following a healthy diet helped people halve their symptoms in just two months.
The findings offer hope of a simple way of managing the condition for the 5.4million people in Britain currently receiving treatment for asthma.
Exercising three times a week and following a healthy diet helped people halve their asthma symptoms in just two months, research has found (file picture)
Researchers in Denmark tested lifestyle interventions on 125 asthma patients for eight weeks.
At the end of the study those who took exercise classes three times a week and ate a healthy low-glycaemic index diet rich in protein, fruit and vegetables rated their asthma symptoms 50 per cent lower than patients in the non-intervention control group.
Participants who only altered their exercise level or diet, but not both, reported a 30 per cent improvement in symptoms.
Study leader Dr Louise Toennesen, from Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen, said: ‘There is increasing evidence that asthma patients who are obese can benefit from a better diet and increased exercise. We wanted to see if non-obese patients with asthma could also benefit.
‘Our study suggests that non-obese asthma patients can safely take part in well-planned, high-intensity exercise.
‘It also shows that exercise combined with a healthy diet can help patients control their asthma symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.
The findings offer hope of a simple way of managing the condition for the 5.4million people in Britain currently receiving treatment for asthma (file photo)
‘These are important findings since we know that not all patients have good control over their symptoms and consequently can have a lower quality of life.
‘We also know that many patients are interested in whether they can improve their asthma control with exercise and a healthy diet.
‘Our research suggests that people with asthma should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to take part in physical activity.’
A low GI diet is one that releases sugar slowly into the blood and helps maintain a well-balanced metabolism.
Results from the study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, did not show a clear improvement in lung function, but found that the diet and exercise combination improved symptom control and quality of life.
Dr Samantha Walker, director of policy 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 and your asthma control.
‘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.’