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Asthma and Exercise in Children

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  • Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways

  • Asthma is one of the most common respiratory disorders in children


  • It is unknown why some individuals will develop asthma and others don’t but it is thought to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors

  • An Asthma attack is caused by exposure to a certain allergen which will different from person to person

  • Asthma may be triggered by exercise in cold or dry air, fumes or chemicals and airborne particles like pollen

  • The allergen causes narrowing of the airways narrow and extra production of mucus

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Signs & Symptoms

  • Wheezing

  • Breathlessness

  • Chest tightness

  • Coughing

  • Symptoms may increase in morning, evening or cold weather

Differential Diagnosis

Diagnosis will be confirmed through a medical specialist prior to commencement with PROmotion

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Bronchitis

  • Aspiration syndromes

PROmotion Assessment and outcome measures

  • Initial diagnosis with GP

  • Assessment with Exercise Physiologist will include a medical PAR-Q, medical history, discussion of goals, current physical activity levels, short and long term goals, Blood pressure and pulse oximetry

  • Based on individual goals further assessment may include Body composition (height, weight, body girths), Cardiovascular fitness test, muscular strength & endurance, flexibility and range of movement

  • Re-test and visit of goals will occur every 6-8 weeks

How to Manage

  • Although exercise can induce an episode of asthma, it is an important factor in disease management

  • Education will be provided regarding when and where to exercise to reduce the severity and duration of an exercise induced attack

  • An individual and safe exercise program will be developed to be completed at home or in clinic

  • Inclusion in the teen strength and conditioning class if appropriate

  • The correct exercise prescription, participation in sports and social activities can help increase a child’s understanding and management of their own asthma which can help to improve a child’s self esteem and body awareness


  1. Wanrooij VH, Willeboordse M, Dompeling E, van de Kant KD. Exercise training in children with asthma: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(13):1024-1031. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091347

  2. Lang JE. The impact of exercise on asthma. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019;19(2):118-125. doi:10.1097/ACI.0000000000000510

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