April 7, 2004 -- Children with asthma are less active than their peers despite the fact that most guidelines recommend exercise physical activity as a part of asthma therapy, according to a new study.
Researchers say children with asthma should not be excluded from physical activity unless indicated by their doctor. Previous studies have shown that activities, such as running and swimming, can relieve asthma symptoms and improve the overall physical fitness level of children with asthma.
Children With Asthma May Not Get Enough Exercise
In the study, published in the April issue of Pediatrics, researchers compared the physical activity levels of 137 inner city children aged 6 to 12 with asthma and 106 similar healthy children. Each child's caregiver was asked about one day's total activity and the number of days the child was active in a typical week.
Researchers found that children with asthma were active an average of 116 minutes in a day compared with 146 minutes among the other children.
Children with asthma were also more likely to be inactive, defined as getting less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day. More than one in five children with asthma compared with less than one in 10 healthy children were inactive.
Researchers say parents' beliefs about the effects of exercise on asthma were a major determinant of how active their children were. The study showed children of parents who believed exercise and physical activity could improve asthma were two and a half times more likely to be highly active.
Overall, researchers say the study shows that less than 20% of children with asthma are not reaching the goal of normal physical activity. They say those findings suggest that doctors and other health care providers should discuss the role of exercise and physical activity in asthma therapy with both children and their caregivers.