MedWire News: People with asthma may benefit from doing warm-up exercises before a workout to reduce their risk of breathing problems caused by airway narrowing, say researchers.
Writing in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, Dr T Mickleborough, from Indiana University in Bloomington, USA, and colleagues explain that most asthma sufferers experience airway narrowing (bronchorestriction) during intense physical activity.
To investigate whether pre-workout warm-up exercises can reduce the risk of airway narrowing, the researchers studied eight moderately trained athletes with asthma.
Each participant's lung function was monitored after they ran on a treadmill without any previous warm-up exercises. They were then monitored again after they had completed pre-workout warm-up exercises involving eight 30-second sprints with a 45-second break between each sprint and after taking 200 mg of an inhaled airway opening medication called a beta-2 agonist while performing warm-up exercises.
The team found that the participants' lung function fell by an average of 18% after running on a treadmill with no warm-up exercises.
In contrast, the athletes' lung function fell by an average of just 9% after performing warm-up exercises and then running on a treadmill.
Taking a beta-2 agonist while performing warm-up exercises reduced the fall in lung function even further.
"These data indicate that repeated high-intensity warm-ups can lessen the bronchoconstrictor response to exercise" in people with asthma, the researchers conclude.
"Combining the interval warm-up with [a beta-2 agonist] prior to exercise conferred a greater protective effect against developing exercise-induced bronchoconstriction."
Nevertheless, they say the findings indicate that asthma sufferers can reduce their risk of airway narrowing without having to rely on medications, by performing warm-up exercises before they workout.