Exercise Preventing Asthma?

Medical Author: Alan Szeftel, MD, FCCP
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

On many occasions, patients have asked me whether exercise will help prevent asthma. This issue is receiving more attention in light of the global increase in the prevalence and severity of asthma and the ongoing efforts to explain this phenomenon. Could a change in lifestyle somehow be responsible for this trend in asthma? Scientists who work in this area have pointed out several childhood developmental and lifestyle differences during the past 40 years.

Let us go back in our minds to the 1960s. It is late afternoon and school is out. Little Johnny and Jane come racing through the back door to find mom greeting them with a glass of milk and a sandwich or an apple. The kids eat their snack and are soon in the neighborhood yard with their friends, playing ball or climbing trees. Now, let us fast forward to the 21st century, where Jason and Jessica let themselves in the house because their parents are not home from work yet. They drop their backpacks on the floor, walk straight to the kitchen, and grab cookies or a bag of potato chips and a soda. They then collapse on the couch, switch on the TV, and vegetate. They may remain there until bedtime, fitting in homework during the commercials. If their favorite programs are not on, some kids settle in front of the computer, surfing the Internet, or playing video games.

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