Breathe easier with this common-sense routine

You want to enjoy the crisp fall air... but you can't get enough of it into your lungs.

Unfortunately, autumn is prime time for asthma attacks because weed pollens, mold spores, and other allergens are on the loose.

But according to a new study, you don't have to hide inside to avoid getting walloped by an attack -- because you can improve your asthma with a sensible lifestyle approach.

And it's one you should be following anyway, based on how many health conditions it can help improve and prevent.

All it takes is sticking to a healthy diet and getting some regular exercise.

Now, diet and exercise have previously been recommended to ease asthma in folks carrying too much weight -- because obesity itself is a risk factor for asthma, and shedding some pounds can improve symptoms.

But the new study found that these lifestyle changes can ALSO benefit people who don't need to bring down their number on the scale.

In the study presented at a recent meeting of the European Respiratory Society, about 150 healthy-weight folks with asthma were randomly assigned to one of the following three interventions:

  1. exercise (three spinning classes per week)
  2. healthy diet (a high-protein, low-glycemic diet including at least six portions of fruits and vegetables daily)
  3. exercise AND a healthy diet (a combination of both 1 and 2)

And as a control, a fourth group received no interventions at all.

After two months, those in the combined exercise and healthy diet group scored 50 percent HIGHER on measures of asthma control and quality of life than those who received only one or neither of these interventions.

That means they were BREATHING and FEELING a whole lot better.

And the COMBINATION of diet and exercise interventions proved better than either one alone.

Even though the folks assigned to either the healthy diet or exercise group had better asthma control by the end of the study than the "no treatment" group, the bump wasn't statistically significant -- meaning it could have occurred by chance.

The theory is that -- when done together -- exercise and eating well can give a one-two punch to the inflammation in your lungs that gives rise to asthma symptoms.

So, if the pollen-filled air is making you gasp for breath, there's no time like today to begin a new diet and fitness routine.

An easy way to make sure you're eating right is to go with the Paleo (a.k.a. "caveman") diet, which -- like the diet in the study -- includes plenty of protein and produce but eliminates the high-glycemic grains and sweets that can spike your blood sugar and feed inflammation.

And as far as exercise is concerned, a good rule of thumb is to aim for about two hours of moderate intensity activity weekly, which means all it takes is about a half hour, five days a week.