Objective: To investigate the effects of regular submaximal exercise on quality of life, exercise capacity and pulmonary function in asthmatic children.
Patients and methods: Sixty-two children with mild-moderate asthma (mean age 10.4 (SD 2.1) years) were randomly allocated into exercise and control groups. The exercise group underwent a moderately intensive basketball training program for 8 weeks. A home respiratory exercise program was advised to both groups. Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ) was used for the evaluation of activity limitation, symptoms and emotional functions. Exercise capacity was evaluated through the physical work capacity (PWC 170 test) on a cycle ergometer and 6-minute walk test. Spirometric tests were also performed and medication and symptom scores were recorded.
Results: Although PAQLQ scores improved in both groups, the improvement in the exercise group was significantly higher. The exercise group performed better in the PWC 170 and 6-minute walk tests, whereas no improvement was detected in the control group at the end of the trial. Medication scores improved in both groups, but symptom scores improved only in the exercise group. No significant changes were detected in pulmonary function in either group, except for peak expiratory flow values in the exercise group.
Conclusion: Eight weeks of regular submaximal exercise has beneficial effects on quality of life and exercise capacity in children with asthma. Submaximal basketball training is an effective alternative exercise program for asthmatic children.