Improvements in symptoms and quality of life following exercise training in older adults with moderate/severe persistent asthma

Respiration. 2011;81(4):302-10. doi: 10.1159/000315142. Epub 2010 May 22.


Background: Some individuals with moderate/severe persistent asthma develop irreversible airway obstruction. These individuals present with dyspnoea, exercise intolerance and impaired quality of life (QOL), all of which could potentially be alleviated with exercise training.

Objective: To investigate whether exercise training improves functional exercise capacity and QOL in middle-aged and older adults with fixed airway obstruction asthma (FAOA).

Methods: 35 subjects aged 67.8 ± 10.6 years, with FEV(1) 59 ± 16% of predicted, were randomised to a 6-week 'intervention' period of supervised exercise training (n = 20) or usual care (n = 15). This period was preceded by a 3-week run-in period during which asthma control was assessed weekly. Functional exercise capacity (6-min walk distance, 6MWD) and QOL (Asthma QOL Questionnaire, AQLQ) were measured before, immediately following and 3 months after the intervention period.

Results: 34 subjects (exercise group, n = 19, and control group, n = 15) completed the intervention period. Relative to the control group, the exercise group had greater improvements immediately following and 3 months after the intervention in the AQLQ symptom domain (0.61, p = 0.001, and 0.57 points per item, p = 0.005) and AQLQ activity limitation domain (0.43, p = 0.04, and 0.55 points per item, p = 0.04). 6MWD increased (36 ± 37 m, p < 0.01) in the exercise group immediately following training and remained elevated (34 ± 45 m, p < 0.01) at the 3-month follow-up. The magnitude of change in 6MWD between groups was not significant, despite no change in the control group.

Conclusions: Supervised exercise training improves symptoms and QOL in adults with FAOA.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Vital Capacity