Peak Flow and Exercise


Does anyone know (for sure) whether 'exercise alone' is proven to contribute to improved Peak Flow - or is it that any Peak Flow improvements I see will be entirely down to the medicine I'm taking, plus additional factors (avoiding allergens etc) that exclude 'exercise'?

I know, for various reasons, it’s good that Asthmatics take exercise (if they can tolerate it) plus that exercise helps asthmatics maintain cardio and general fitness.

What I don't know is whether there is any 'firm proof' that asthmatics who exercise can improve their Peak Flow Rate by doing so (or if the only way of 'positively' effecting airway re-modelling - which has led to reduce breathing capacity - is through taking asthma medicine, avoiding allergens etc - which I am already doing).

Good Health To All


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4 Replies

  • It goes without saying that exercise is good for asthmatics, as it is for anyone, but without medication I imagine most of us would collapse in a heap fairly quickly. I think what you're getting at here (I think) is probably true that the cure to good asthma control is a mix of living healthily, avoiding triggers & taking medication.

    In my case, I have the song 'Two Out of Three Ain't Bad' running round my head now :-)

  • Hello Matman.

    If you look in my book, "Running with Asthma: An Asthmatic Runner's Memoir," pages 54-57 addresses your question. I did a Peak Flow study on myself and found that swimming improved my peak Flow by 14%. I checked my Peak Flow before and after swimming. I also found that a device for diaphragm development, "PowerLung" increased my Peak Flow by 14.6% over a five week period. During these peak flow tests I was running 2-5 miles a day at least 3 days a week and doing deep breathing calisthenics such as Tai Chi and the Peaceful Warrior Workout ( every day. My book is available on

    That being said, hot showers and my albuterol sulfate inhaler also improve my Peak Flow.

    John Terry McConnell

  • Hello again Is it Matman or Martin? Or both?

    I thought some more about your question. I'm not a doctor or a medical researcher. I know of research that shows Tai Chi improves asthma but I don't remember if peak flow was a criterion for this improvement. The web site is:

    There is a study that shows swimming improves asthma. Again, I don't know if peak flow was a criterion. The web site is:

    All the best to you,

    John Terry McConnell

  • Thanks for sharing those thoughts / ideas folks. (I'll certainly check out the links and the Book). Here's a reply to an email on the very same subject I received from a Health Org in Australia that I raised the same question with:


    Thanks for your email. In summary, regular, moderately intense physical activity improves cardiopulmonary fitness and quality of life in people with asthma, and is well tolerated, but has no effect on lung function or asthma symptoms.

    Here is the latest Cochrane review, which includes a plain language summary, that covers this in more detail.

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