Children with asthma can ease the symptoms of the condition by swimming, according to a scientific study from Taiwan.

Swimming increases lung capacity and improves breathing techniques and general fitness in young people, said the German lung foundation in Hanover in reporting on the Taiwanese study.

The warm, moist air in heated indoor pools calms the respiratory passages of asthmatics, said Professor Harald Morr, Chairman of the foundation. This reduces the risk of an asthma attack caused by physical exertion, which often occurs, in situations like, asthmatics jogging in cold weather.

It is important, however, to choose a swimming pool that is well ventilated and one where hygiene is held to an exact standard. Pools that use chlorine-free disinfectants such as UV light are more suitable than those that use chlorine, Mr. Morr said. Pools that have a strong smell of chlorine in the air could trigger an asthma attack in sensitive children, who have a tendency to have allergic reactions.

Children between the ages of 7 and 12 with asthma were examined in the study. Half of them had swimming lessons for six weeks. The others did not. Researchers found that children in the group that had swimming lessons snored less, breathed more through the nose and their rib cages were less deformed. The positive results of swimming were still recognizable up to one year after the end of the training, the lung association said.

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