A recent analysis, published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, evaluated the effects of physical activity (PA) in pediatric patients with asthma. The study’s authors noted their goal was to synthesize the sizable amount of new evidence generated by the refinement of PA and asthma studies over the prior 10 years.
According to the investigators, the results of their systematic review and meta-analysis suggested that PA could improve forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of FVC (FEF25-75), and quality of life in asthmatic children; however, there was not evidence of an improvement in forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) or airway inflammation.
The authors of the meta-analysis included a total of 9 randomized controlled trials published to the PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases from 2010 to 2020. Studies were eligible if they enrolled patients under 18 years of age who met asthma diagnostic criteria guidelines and included different forms of PA in the intervention group for at least 4 weeks.
Among the participants of the 9 trials, PA significantly improved FVC (mean difference [MD], 7.62; 95% CI, 3.46-11.78; P<.001) and FEF25-75 (MD, 10.39; 95% CI, 2.96-17.82; P=.006) lung function measures, the authors reported. They also found PA significantly improved all items on the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire assessment (P<.05).
Comparatively, PA did not appear to yield any significant improvement in FEV1 (MD, 3.17; 95% CI, -2.82 to 9.15; P=.30) or fractional exhaled nitric oxide (MD, -1.74; 95% CI, -11.36 to 7.88; P=.72).
Authors noted their findings were limited by, among other factors, a degree of heterogeneity in the moderate-to-severe intensity exercises used in the interventions, and the fact most interventions only had a duration of 12 months, making it impossible to analyze long-term effects of PA in asthmatics.
“In summary,” the authors concluded, “our systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that PA can improve FVC, FEF25–75, and quality of life in asthmatic children… we believe PA as an adjunctive therapy should be recommended for asthmatic children, except for severe asthma or exacerbations.”