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Newcastle breathes easier in world-first study

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A world-first Hunter Medical Research Institute study is finding that moderate exercise can reduce inflammation in the lungs of people with asthma.

The study looks at how different intensities of exercise affect the management of the lung condition. Participants are split into three cohorts and for three months undertake either moderate exercise, vigorous exercise or nothing at all. Baseline testing is conducted at the start, then they are retested at the end to see if there are any improvements in their asthma status.

Early results are indicating that moderate exercise is more beneficial than vigorous, however, the ideal amount is yet to be determined. Researchers are hoping to incorporate the final findings into asthma management guidelines.

“We know that exercise improves asthma, but we haven’t actually looked before to see what intensity of exercise might be better,” the University of Newcastle’s Dr Hayley Scott told Newcastle Weekly.

“We were really surprised when we looked at the literature and there were no studies that looked at what type of exercise might be the most beneficial.

“It is the first study in the world to look at this, so we’re really excited to have a look and see what the results show.”

Raymond Terrace’s Suzanne Climan is doing moderate exercise for the study and is already feeling the benefits.

Since moving to the region from Penrith six years ago, Ms Climan has already found her asthma has significantly improved, including halving her medication, which she has attributed to both the change in environment and the support for the condition she is now able to access through HMRI and a specialist.

“When I was in Sydney, it was nothing short for me to have three or four asthma attacks a year and I was on Prednisone constantly,” she said.

“Since I’ve been up here it’s maybe once a year, and I’m not hospitalised.”

Ms Climan’s involvement involves 45 minutes of exercise three times a week, split between a treadmill and a bike, and has found that since starting her sleep has improved.

She hopes the findings will inform improved support services for others who have been diagnosed.

“I didn’t have a lot of help when I got my asthma; the doctors I originally saw just went ‘take some more medication, bump up the Ventolin’,” Ms Climan said.

“If I can do something to help someone else with the testing that I do, or the exercise that I do, someone else will get the support that I didn’t get in the beginning but get now.”

Dr Scott is leading the study with the University of Queensland’s Professor John Upham. Participants are still being sought. To find out more, phone 4042 0113.

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