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Oct 08, 2015 01:04 PM EDT

New research suggests just 30 minutes of exercise a day, year round, could help people with asthma control their symptoms, The Toronto Star reported

Researchers from Concordia University, the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal and several other institutions found that those who engaged in optimal levels of physical activity on a regular basis were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to have good control of their symptoms, compared with those who did no exercise. The workout doesn't have to be strenuous.

"We're not talking about running marathons here," Simon Bacon, the study's lead author and a professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Concordia, said in a statement. "Just 30 minutes a day of walking, riding a bike, doing yoga -- anything active, really -- can result in significant reduction of asthma symptoms."

Traditionally, people with the condition have been discouraged from exercising because of a belief that it triggers shortness of breath and attacks. Bacon explains that simple precautionary measures can be taken to avoid the discomforts that can be caused by physical activity.

For the study, researchers analyzed the exercise habits of 643 participants who had been diagnosed with asthma. Within this sample group, 245 reported doing no physical activity. Only 100 said they exercised 30 minutes a day, The Auburn Times reported

Bacon said those numbers reflect the population in general, 40 percent of people don't exercise at all.

"We need to keep in mind that doing something is better than nothing, and doing more is better than less. Even the smallest amount of activity is beneficial," Bacon said. "Our study shows that those who were able to engage in physical activity on a regular basis year-round benefit most."

The findings are detailed in the journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

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