Objective: Asthma patients know the benefits of exercise but often avoid physical activity because they are concerned that it will exacerbate asthma. The objective of this analysis was to assess longitudinal asthma status in 256 primary care patients in New York City enrolled in a trial to increase lifestyle physical activity.
Methods: Patients were randomized to two protocols to increase physical activity during a period of 12 months. At enrollment, patients completed the Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ) and the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) and received asthma self-management instruction through an evaluative test and workbook. Exercise and self-management were reinforced every 2 months. The AQLQ was repeated every 4 months and the ACQ was repeated at 12 months.
Results: The mean age was 43 years and 75% were women. At 12 months there were clinically important increases in physical activity with no differences between groups; thus, data were pooled for asthma analyses. The enrollment AQLQ score was 5.0 ± 1.3 and increased to 5.9 ± 1.1 corresponding to a clinically important difference. Correlations between AQLQ and physical activity were approximately 0.35 (p < .0001) at each time point. In a mixed effects model, the variables associated with improvement in AQLQ scores over time were male sex, less severe asthma, not taking asthma maintenance medications, fewer depressive symptoms, and increased physical activity (all variables, p < .03). According to the ACQ, asthma was well controlled in 38% at enrollment and in 60% at 12 months (p < .0001).
Conclusion: With attention to self-management, increased physical activity did not compromise asthma control and was associated with improved asthma.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00195117.