Objective: To evaluate the effects of a physical exercise programme for children with asthma on an outpatient basis.
Design: Intervention study: a randomized pretest-post-test control group design.
Setting and subjects: Forty-seven children with clinically diagnosed asthma participated in the intervention study, including 34 boys and 13 girls, from 8 to 13 years of age (mean age 10.6).
Interventions: The physical exercise programme consisted of regular group exercises and home exercises for a period of three months. It was based on a theoretical model describing the relationships between physical competence (condition), perceived physical competence, self-esteem and coping behaviour.
Main outcome measures: Maximum incremental exercise test, endurance test, the Self-Perception Profile for Children (CBSK), the Asthma Coping Test (ACBT), lung function and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
Results: The results showed significant effects of the intervention programme on physical condition. There was a significant improvement of 15 W on the maximal workload (Wmax) (p < 0.001), of 7% on VO2max (oxygen uptake) (p = 0.002) and a significant decrease on heart rate submaximal of 6% (p = 0.001). There was also a significant improvement of 50% in running time measured with the endurance test (p = 0.021). Furthermore, a significant effect of the intervention was seen on coping with asthma (p = 0.003).
Conclusion: It was concluded that participation in the physical exercise programme not only enhanced physical fitness, but also improved coping behaviour with asthma.