Could Physical Activity Affect Asthma Outcomes in Women?

High levels of physical activity are associated with poor asthma control in women, but not in men, according to a recent study.

Previous research has suggested that levels of physical activity can affect the quality of asthma control, but results have been varied.

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In order to further detail the relationship, researchers questioned 408 patients with asthma and 118 controls on the frequency and duration of their physical activity and calculated the quality of asthma control using the Asthma Control Test (ACT), spirometry, methacholine challenges, and exhaled nitric oxide measurements.

Researchers defined physical activity as high (4 or more times a week), moderate (1-3 times a week), and low (once a month or less), and high-levele (4 or more hours a week), moderate (1-3 hours a week), and low (less than 30 minutes a week).

Overall, patients with asthma were more frequently active and active for longer durations than controls. In women with reduced ACT items, high versus moderately physically active participants were more likely to have poorly controlled asthma. Highly active women with asthma also experienced more asthma attacks than moderately active peers, despite similar levels of inflammation and bronchial responsiveness.

“High levels of physical activity were associated with poor asthma control as judged by the ACT in females, but not in males, and this appears unrelated to airway inflammation or responsiveness,” they concluded.

—Michael Potts


Lovstrom L, Emtner M, Alving K, et al. High levels of physical activity are associated with poorer asthma control in young females but not in males. Respirology. November 19, 2015 [epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1111/resp.12671.