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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children with asthma are likely to breather easier, with less medication, and feel better overall, if they boost their physical fitness levels, a study from Brazil indicates.
In the study of children with appropriately-treated asthma, supervised aerobic exercise training improved aerobic fitness and curbed feelings of breathlessness induced by physical activity.
Moreover, daily doses of inhaled steroids were reduced by 52 percent in children who participated in the exercise training, while the doses remained unchanged or increased for children in a comparison "control" group who did not exercise.
"Physical conditioning in asthmatic children receiving appropriate medical treatment also improved health-related quality of life, especially their asthma symptoms and exercise capacity," study author Dr. Celso R. F. Carvalho, at the University of Sao Paulo, told Reuters Health.
Carvalho also noted that parents of aerobically trained asthmatic children reported being "less worried about asthma as a chronic disease in their children."
The findings, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, are based on 38 children aged 7 to 15 years with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma who were randomly assigned to either a supervised aerobic training group or a control group. Aerobic training was performed at moderate to high intensity twice a week for 16 weeks. All children were receiving appropriate medical treatment for their asthma before aerobic training.
The findings in this study of improved asthma control with increased aerobic fitness, the researchers conclude, highlights the importance of maintaining regular physical activity in children with asthma.
"Children who experience breathing restrictions caused by asthma sometimes fear inducing breathlessness by exercise, which can cause physical deconditioning over time," Carvalho said. "This is where we often see patients with asthma having lower fitness levels. Physical training, properly supervised, is not only a possibility for this group, but also a management strategy for their symptoms."
SOURCE: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, September 2007.