Asthma and Exercise Can Go Hand-in-Hand

Yet too many parents keep their kids from needed physical activity

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TUESDAY, April 6, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Parents' misconceptions that exercise can be risky for their asthmatic children may be partly to blame for low levels of physical activity among children with the disease, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

The study, in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics, found that 20 percent of children with asthma do not get enough exercise, even though research has shown that running, swimming and other kinds of physical activity decrease the severity of asthma symptoms.

Researchers conducted a telephone survey of 137 parents of children with asthma and 106 parents of healthy children. About 20 percent of all the parents indicated they believed that exercise is dangerous for children with asthma.

About 25 percent of the parents of asthmatic children said they were afraid that exercise would make their child sick, and that their child gets upset with strenuous activity. The children of parents who expressed such views were more likely than other children to be inactive.

"These results are troubling," study lead author Dr. David Lang said in a prepared statement.

"Despite medical advances and a better understanding of asthma, we found that beliefs still exist that exercise is dangerous for asthmatic children and that children with asthma should not exercise. In reality, physical activity has important benefits for all children, including those with asthma," Lang said.

It's essential that pediatricians educate asthmatic children and their parents about the benefits of exercise, he said.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about asthma in children.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, April 5, 2004

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