Asthma and exercise

red_sneaks-copy-191x250Children with asthma can benefit from cardiovascular exercise, according to a study by University of Maine researchers.

In fact, after students ran increasingly faster 20-meter (65.6-foot) sprints for more than a year, children with the chronic lung disease performed as well as youth without breathing difficulties, says Stephen Butterfield, UMaine professor of physical education and kinesiology.

Butterfield’s research team used the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) with 809 students (103 had mild-moderate asthma) in grades 4–8. Five times during a 15-month period, they measured the students’ cardiovascular performance when they ran 20 meters at progressively faster intervals.
“Children with asthma increased their performance on the PACER at a rate more than double that of children without asthma,” according to the researchers, writing in the journal Perceptual & Motor Skills.

“By the end of the study (month 15), performances of both groups were essentially equal. Overall, results of this study strengthen the case for cardiovascular activity for children with well-managed asthma.”

As the 9- to 14-year-old children with asthma developed effective pacing strategies, they likely gained confidence in their cardiovascular capabilities, and the PACER is an effective tool for shaping these capabilities, Butterfield says.