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Physical activity neither beneficial nor detrimental to asthma control in children

17 Jul 2017

There appears to be no evidence supporting associations between physical activity and asthma control level, spirometric measurements and quality of life in children and adolescents with asthma, according to a study from Brazil.

The observational, cross-sectional study included 100 children and adolescents aged 7 to 17 years (mean age 11.22 years; 55 percent male) who attended a single-centre paediatric pulmonology outpatient clinic.

Asthma Control Test (ACT) was administered to evaluate asthma control levels, while the long version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and other questions about daily activities at school and at home over the previous week facilitated measurement of physical activity. Lung function was evaluated using spirometry, both pre- and postbronchodilator, whereas quality of life was assessed using the Paediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ).

Of the patients, 60 were identified as presenting with controlled asthma and the remaining 40 as presenting with uncontrolled asthma. IPAQ data indicated that 29 percent were sedentary, 17 percent were active, and 54 percent were very active. No significant association between physical activity and the level of asthma control was observed.

Furthermore, spirometric variables or quality of life did not differ among active and sedentary children and adolescents with asthma.

A chronic inflammatory disease, asthma is characterized by recurrent episodes of wheezing, dyspnoea, chest tightness and cough. Approximately 300 million people worldwide are affected by asthma. Evidence suggests that performing exercise contributes to the prevention and reduction of asthma exacerbation, the improvement of lung function and the downregulation of inflammation markers. [J Bras Pneumol 2012;38:1–46; http://ginasthma.org/; Eur Respir J 2008;32:1570–5; Am J Lifestyle Med 2011;5:33]

In recent decades, however, children and adolescents have become more sedentary as a result of lack of incentives and opportunities for physical activities. This behaviour has also been largely attributed to greater access to technology, with children spending more time in front of television screens, video games, computers and cell phones. [PLos One 2015;10:e0129622; Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2016;41:790]

Findings of the current study show no associations between physical activity, asthma control level, spirometric measurements and quality of life in children and adolescents with asthma, researchers said.

Future studies should increase the number of subjects, as well as utilize other tools such as accelerometers or pedometers to assess the physical activity level to improve the accuracy of the evaluation of the association between physical activity, asthma control level, pulmonary function and quality of life, they added.

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