Barriers and facilitators to healthy physical activity in asthma patients

J Asthma. 2006 Mar;43(2):137-43. doi: 10.1080/02770900500498584.


Preliminary evidence indicates that asthma patients limit exercise and healthy lifestyle activities to avoid respiratory symptoms. This self-imposed decrease in activity, even among those with mild disease, may predispose to long-term general health risks. The objectives of this qualitative study were to determine patients' views about exercise and lifestyle activities and to determine if these views varied depending on asthma characteristics. During in-person interviews, 60 patients were asked open-ended questions about asthma and perceived barriers and facilitators to exercise and lifestyle activities, particularly walking. Responses were coded and corroborated by independent investigators and then compared according to asthma severity, knowledge, self-efficacy, and attitudes. Although most patients acknowledged the importance of exercise, many either limited or did not participate in exercise because of asthma and other conditions. Patients cited both internal and external barriers to exercise, such as lack of motivation, time constraints, and extreme weather affecting asthma. Patients identified multiple facilitators, such as social support and the desire to be healthy. Lifestyle activities were preferred over formal exercise regimens. Patients with more severe disease were more likely to believe that exercise was not good for asthma. Patients with less knowledge, less self-efficacy, and worse attitudes toward asthma also were more likely to have negative perspectives about exercise. In conclusion, for many patients, asthma is a deterrent to physical activity and predisposes to inactivity. Developing interventions to foster prudent lifestyle activities and exercise among asthma patients should be a priority to decrease long-term health risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires