Persistent uncontrolled asthma: Long-term impact on physical activity and body composition

Mustafa Abdo*, Benjamin Waschki, Anne Marie Kirsten, Frederik Trinkmann, Heike Biller, Christian Herzmann, Erika von Mutius, Matthias Kopp, Gesine Hansen, Klaus F. Rabe, Thomas Bahmer, Henrik Watz

*Corresponding author for this work


Rationale: Asthma, obesity and physical activity (PA) are interrelated. However, longitudinal data with objective PA measures and direct assessment of body composition are still lacking. Objective: To study the impact of symptom control on PA and body composition. Methods: In a longitudinal cohort study of the German Center for Lung Research, we assessed the body composition of 233 asthma patients and 84 healthy controls using bioelectrical impedance analysis. PA (ie average daily steps and time of at least moderate activity, steps/min) was measured by accelerometry for one week. Asthma control was assessed by ACT score, ACQ-5 score and history of severe exacerbations. After two years of follow-up, we studied changes in physical activity and body composition in relation to asthma control. Results: Patients with uncontrolled asthma had increased fat mass and decreased muscle mass compared to patients with controlled asthma or healthy controls. Both fat mass and muscle mass correlated better with asthma control than the body mass index (BMI). In multivariate regressions adjusted for age and sex, asthma control and physical activity were independent predictors of body composition (R2 = 0.61, p < 0.001). Persistent uncontrolled asthma patients (n=64) had lower physical activity at both baseline (6614 steps/118 min) and follow-up (6195/115). Despite having stable BMI, they also had significant muscle loss (−1.2%, −0.88 kg, p<0.01) and fat accumulation (+1%, +1.1 kg, p<0.01). By contrast, temporarily uncontrolled or controlled asthma patients had higher physical activity at baseline (8670/156) and follow-up (9058/153) with almost unchanged body composition. Conclusion: Persistent uncontrolled asthma is associated with sustained physical inactivity and adverse changes in body composition that might be overlooked by relying solely on BMI. Physical activity is an independent predictor of body composition and reliable long-term marker of symptom control.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Asthma and Allergy
Pages (from-to)229-240
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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