Moderate and Vigorous Exercise Programs in Children With Asthma:: Safety, Parental Satisfaction, and Asthma Outcomes

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Abstract

Background:

Previous research suggests that physical activity programs may improve fitness and reduce symptoms in children with asthma, but few studies have included severe asthmatics and focused on safety and parental satisfaction with the programs.

Objective:

To examine safety, parental satisfaction, and pre- to post-intervention changes in symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in a pilot study of the impact of vigorous physical activity (swimming) and moderate-intensity activity (golf) on inner-city children with asthma.

Design/Methods:

Children with asthma (7-14 years old) residing in Milwaukee's highest asthma prevalence zip codes were randomized to a 9-week swimming or golf program. Pre- and post-intervention data were obtained on safety, parental satisfaction, asthma symptoms, quality of life, and urgent asthma physician visits.

Results:

Twenty-eight children in the swimming group and 17 in the golf group completed the program. Combined group analysis (N=45) revealed that only six symptom exacerbations occurred during 1,125 person-sessions of swimming and golf (all resolved with bronchodilator therapy), 92% of parents were very or extremely satisfied with the program, and post-exercise decreases were observed in asthma symptom severity scores (9.3-7.3, P<0.001), improved parental QOL (4.9-5.4, P<0.001), and reduced urgent physician visits for asthma (1.3-0.2 visits per person, P=0.04). The study lacked sufficient power to perform intergroup comparisons.

Conclusions:

Findings from this pilot study indicate that vigorous (swimming) and moderate-intensity (golf) physical activity programs are well-tolerated, safe, and achieve high parental satisfaction. Participants and parents reported reduced childhood asthma symptoms and physician office visits and improved parental QOL. These findings suggest a potentially beneficial role for moderate to vigorous physical activity in childhood asthma.

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