A World Allergy Organization international survey on physical activity as a treatment option for asthma and allergies

World Allergy Organ J. 2014 Nov 27;7(1):34. doi: 10.1186/1939-4551-7-34. eCollection 2014.


Background: Physical exercise has been shown to improve asthma symptoms, QoL, exercise capacity, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and lung function and is recommended as a supplementary treatment to pharmacotherapy for asthma. Clinicians are well placed to promote physically active lifestyles, but their role and practice towards promoting physically active lifestyles among patients has not been fully investigated. This study was designed to investigate the knowledge, propensity, attitude and practices of clinicians towards the promotion of physical activity among patients with asthma and allergies.

Methods: Two hundred and eighty clinicians (mean age; 46 ± 13 years; with a clinical experience of practice for 15 ± 7 years) participated in a global survey. The survey comprised a 29-item questionnaire, which gathered information on attitudes of the clinicians towards promoting physical activity, their knowledge and their beliefs regarding evidence for benefits of physical activity as a supplementary treatment in patients with asthma and allergies.

Results: Almost all respondents were aware of the strong evidence in favor of physical activity for the psychological well-being, weight control, decreased risk of diabetes, ischemic heart disease and arterial hypertension. Evidence for reduction in the risk for developing asthma and for better asthma control were reported by 60.0% and 85.4% of participants, respectively. The majority (85.0%) of clinicians strongly agreed that promoting physical activity is important to health care, although 95.5% considered they required more educational training. Although two thirds of them usually recommended exercise to their asthmatic/allergic patients, only 24.0% reported having previous training on the subject of such counseling. Almost all believed that effective counseling about a healthy diet, exercise and weight management would be easier if the clinician himself/herself was physically fit and healthy.

Conclusions: The results of this global survey indicate that clinicians working in the field of allergy and respiratory diseases are well aware of the evidence supporting the benefits of physical activity for asthma and allergic diseases although they need more training in such counseling. Therefore, concerted efforts are needed towards educating clinicians towards promoting physical activity and weight management, as a supplementary treatment for asthma and allergies.

Keywords: Allergy; Asthma; Physical activity; Survey.