Clinical control is difficult to achieve in obese patients with asthma. Bariatric surgery has been recommended for weight loss and to improve asthma control; however, the benefits of nonsurgical interventions have been poorly investigated. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of exercise training in a weight-loss program on asthma control, quality of life, inflammatory biomarkers, and lung function.
Fifty-five obese patients with asthma were randomly assigned to either a weight-loss program plus exercise (WL + E group, n = 28) or a weight-loss program plus sham (WL + S group, n = 27), where the weight-loss program included nutrition (caloric restriction) and psychological therapies. The WL + E group incorporated aerobic and resistance muscle training, whereas the WL + S group incorporated breathing and stretching exercises.
The primary outcome was clinical improvement in asthma control over 3 months. Secondary outcomes included quality of life, lung function, body composition, aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and inflammatory/antiinflammatory biomarkers. After 3 months, 51 patients were analyzed. Compared with the WL + S group, the WL + E group demonstrated improved clinical control scores (median [25th to 75th percentile], -0.7 [-1.3 to -0.3] vs. -0.3 [-0.9 to 0.4]; P = 0.01) and greater weight loss (mean ± SD, -6.8% ± 3.5 vs. -3.1% ± 2.6; P < 0.001) and aerobic capacity (median [25th to 75th percentile], 3.0 [2.4 to 4.0] vs. 0.9 [-0.3 to 1.3] ml O2 × kg-1 × min-1; P < 0.001). These improvements in the WL + E group were also accompanied by improvements in lung function, antiinflammatory biomarkers, and vitamin D levels, as well as reductions in airway and systemic inflammation.
Adding exercise to a short-term weight-loss program should be considered as a useful strategy for achieving clinical control of asthma in obese patients.