Purpose: Aerobic training has been shown to be effective in improving cardiopulmonary fitness in asthmatic children. However, the actual impact of physical training on clinical indicators of disease control remains controversial.
Methods: Thirty-eight children with moderate to severe persistent asthma were randomly assigned to control (N=17) and training (N=21) groups. Spirometry, exercise challenge, and maximum incremental cardiopulmonary exercise tests were performed 16 wk apart. Daily doses of inhaled steroids and Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ) scores were also recorded.
Results: Physical training was associated with significant improvements in physiological variables at peak and submaximal exercise (P<0.05); in contrast, no significant changes were found in controls. Severity of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) and postexercise breathlessness were significantly lessened in trained patients; improvement in fitness and EIB, however, were not linearly related (P>0.05). In addition, PAQLQ scores improved only in trained children (P<0.01). Daily doses of inhaled steroids were reduced in trained patients (52%), but they remained unchanged or increased in controls (70.6%) (P=0.07).
Conclusion: Supervised exercise training might be associated with beneficial effects on disease control and quality of life in asthmatic children. These data suggest an adjunct role of physical conditioning on clinical management of patients with more advanced disease.