Factors associated with the physical activity level of children who have the Fontan procedure

Am Heart J. 2011 Feb;161(2):411-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2010.11.019.


Background: Children with complex heart defects are sedentary, with activity level unrelated to exercise capacity. We sought to identify factors associated with physical activity level for children who have the Fontan procedure.

Methods: We used a cross-sectional study, 64 children (25 female, 5-11 years) after Fontan. Measurements were weekly minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, cardiac status, resting/exercise cardiopulmonary capacity, gross motor skill, health-related endurance/strength/body composition, and parent/child activity perceptions.

Results: Participants performed 361 ± 137 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Increased activity related to antithrombotic medication use (86 min/wk), lower resting heart rate (3 min/wk), higher weekday outdoor time (0.7 minutes per outside minute), lower family income (13 minutes per $10,000), and higher parent rating of child's activity relative to peers (36 min/wk). Factors related to decreased activity were winter season (-84 min/wk), history of arrhythmia (-96 min/wk), and greater child confidence in own ability to be active (-113 min/wk).

Conclusions: Physical activity after the Fontan procedure is primarily associated with factors unrelated to cardiac status. Interventions that impact these modifiable factors would be expected to enable these children to achieve the recommended activity levels associated with optimal health.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*