Aims: to determine whether moderate/severe asthmatics can improve their physical fitness using standard commercial gymnasium fitness programmes and to examine the effect on their asthma.
Methods: eight moderate to severe asthmatics and seven nonasthmatic controls were tested before and after 12 weeks indoor circuit training at a commercial gymnasium. The aerobic fitness of both groups was assessed before, during and after the conditioning period. Measures of asthma severity, habitual activity levels and psychological status were also assessed.
Results: peak oxygen uptakes increased significantly in both asthmatics and controls, mean and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) values rising from 27.5 (21.9-33.0) to 31.3 (23.5-39.1) and 29.2 (25.9-32.5) to 32.2 (28.5-35.9) mL.min-1.kg-1 respectively. Following training, minute ventilation at high workloads was significantly reduced in the asthmatic subjects. In all participants subjective ratings of the ability to perform physical tasks was significantly increased as was the amount of habitual physical activity reported. Although the asthmatics' bronchial responsiveness to histamine, medication usage and symptom scores did not change, the daily recorded peak expiratory flow (PEFR) increased slightly, and its variability declined.
Conclusions: these findings demonstrate that with proper management severe asthmatics can engage in vigorous circuit training and enjoy the health benefits of regular exercise.