Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Inhaled Corticosteroid Dose in Asthma Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Anders Pitzner-Fabricius*, Christian H Dall, Marius Henriksen, Erik S H Hansen, Louise L Toennesen, Morten Hostrup, Vibeke Backer

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are the cornerstone of asthma treatment. However, ICS has side effects, and dose reduction is recommended when possible. Physical exercise improves asthma control, but it is unknown whether it reduces the reliance on ICS.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether supervised high-intensity interval training reduces the need for ICS in untrained asthma patients.

METHODS: An assessor-blinded single-center randomized controlled trial, Copenhagen, Denmark. One hundred fifty untrained ICS-treated adults with symptomatic asthma were randomly assigned (2:1) to 6 months of supervised exercise 3 times weekly or a lifestyle as usual control group. Every second month, a clinical algorithm based on symptom control was applied in both groups to adjust ICS dose. Primary outcome was the proportion who had their ICS dose reduced by 25% or more after 6 months. Secondary outcomes included actual ICS dosage in micrograms per day.

RESULTS: Between October 2017 and December 2019, 102 patients were allocated to exercise intervention (86% completed) and 48 to the control (85% completed). At the 6-month visit, 63% versus 50% met the primary outcome in the exercise and control groups, respectively (adjusted risk difference 9.6% [95% CI -3.8 to 18.8]; P = .15). Daily ICS dose was reduced in favor of the exercise group, with a mean difference of -234 μg (95% CI -391 to -77; P = .0037), corresponding to a 24% reduction from baseline. This effect was sustained at 12 months. The intervention was safe and well tolerated.

CONCLUSIONS: Six months of regular exercise results in reduction in daily ICS dose without compromising asthma control.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2133-2143.e8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Adult
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Asthma/drug therapy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • High-Intensity Interval Training
  • Humans
  • Nonpharmacological
  • Behavioral intervention
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Asthma
  • Corticosteroid-sparing
  • Exercise
  • Step-down


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