Background: Exercise training has a number of well known beneficial effects in both normal and asthmatic children. Up to date, there are no local studies that have evaluated how the Filipino asthmatic children respond to structured exercise training in terms of their psychological, physical, physiological as well as respiratory function. This study was done to determine the effect of an exercise training program among Filipino asthmatic children with respect to their cardiopulmonary endurance, physical fitness and psychological response.
Methods: Subjects were recruited from outpatient and inpatient referrals to the Section of Pediatric Pulmonology, Philippine Heart Center. Anthropometric data, pulmonary function test and exercise testing was done prior and after the training period. Likewise, subjects were asked to answer the "Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ)" before and after the completion of the training program. The subjects underwent an 8-week exercise training program, which consist of exercises involving both upper and lower extremities to increase the cardiorespiratory endurance, breathing exercise training intended to improve the lung function, patient education, and relaxation techniques. The exercise training was performed three times a week on a mechanically braked calibrated cycle ergometer and treadmill machine (Trackmaster TM500/R) at the Philippine Heart Center. Section of Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
Results. During the 8-week period of exercise training, about 27 out the 31 mild to moderately persistent asthmatic subjects had tolerated and completed the program, 16 (55.2%) were males and 13 (44.8%) were females. The mean age of the patients was 12.34 ± 2.61 years old with a body mass index of 16.70 ± 3.2 kg/m2. Weekly monitoring of FEV1 and PEFR during the course of the exercise training program showed no significant improvement from the baseline. Lung function taken immediately after exercise testing showed an initial decrease, although non-significant change in FEV1 and PEFR values at 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes. Improvement to near resting value of FEV1 and PEFR were noted at 20 minutes thereafter on both pre- and post-training stage. The six-minute walk test done showed a very significant improvement in the distance covered with mean difference of 73.18 ± 5.88 meters (p=0.001) post-training. Treadmill workload post-training was also noted to have markedly improved on both speed (p=0.033) and degree of elevation (p=0.018). The overall PAQLQ score (p=Q.001) and scores of the 3 domains, enumerated as activity limitation (p= 0.000), symptoms (p=0.001), and emotional function (p=0.001), improved Significantly at the final evaluation done after completion of the exercise program. The most prominent difference was seen in the activity limitation domain.