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The Somatic Connection  |   May 2017
Cardiorespiratory Benefit of Aerobic Exercise for Patients With Asthma
Author Notes
  • Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Pomona, California 
Article Information
The Somatic Connection   |   May 2017
Cardiorespiratory Benefit of Aerobic Exercise for Patients With Asthma
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2017, Vol. 117, 331-332. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2017.059
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2017, Vol. 117, 331-332. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2017.059
Carson KV, Chandratilleke MG, Picot J, Brinn MP, Esterman AJ, Smith BJ. Physical training for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(9):CD001116. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001116.pub4 
Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to explore the effects of physical training on the cardiorespiratory function of patients with asthma. Randomized controlled trials that included patients aged 8 years or older who had asthma and undertook physical training were considered. Physical training intervention had to include full-body aerobic exercise lasting at least 20  minutes, performed twice per week for at least 4 weeks. Twenty-one studies met these criteria. The researchers’ primary outcome measure was asthmatic symptoms, and secondary outcome measures included physiologic measurements and quality of life. 
Nine studies examined the effect of physical training on the symptoms of patients with asthma. Five of the 9 studies reported no difference between the symptoms of the patients in the intervention and control groups after the intervention. Three of the 9 studies reported that physical training decreased the frequency of asthmatic symptoms, and 1 study reported that it lessened the severity of the symptoms. 
Studies that measured forced expiratory volume, forced vital capacity, or peak expiratory flow rate found that physical training had no significant effect on these measures. Although not statistically significant, studies found that physical training improved ventilation at maximal exercise, led to an increase in maximal heart rate, improved maximal ventilatory ventilation, and led to an increase in 6-minute walking distance. Additionally, 4 studies reported statistically significant improvements in the self-reported quality of life of patients in the intervention groups. 
This review provides evidence that aerobic exercise does not worsen the severity or frequency of asthma or cardiorespiratory functions and may improve the quality of life of patients with asthma. It would be of interest in future studies if participants were treated for related somatic dysfunction with osteopathic manipulative treatment before undergoing aerobic conditioning to explore whether outcomes would be different for forced expiratory volume, forced vital capacity, or peak expiratory flow rate. These factors depend on airway and costal cage resistance, which osteopathic manipulative treatment could address by balancing autonomic tone to dilate the bronchial airways and improve compliance of the costal cage.