The complex overlap between asthma and obesity may be explained in part by activity avoidance in asthma. We compared responses to a walking intervention between matched groups of children with and without asthma. We expected youth with asthma to have lower baseline and post-intervention activity levels. Psychosocial, demographic, and physiologic correlates of activity were also examined.
We compared baseline and post-intervention activity levels among 59 children aged 10–16 with well-controlled asthma and 59 healthy matched controls. Participants completed spirometry, physical examination, anthropometric measurement, and psychosocial questionnaires.
Participants wore blinded calibrated pedometers for a baseline typical activity week, returning to complete the Wonders of Walking (WOW) intervention, followed by a week of post-intervention pedometer monitoring.
Contrary to expectation, no differences between cases (median steps = 6,348/day) and controls (median steps = 6,825/day) in baseline activity were found. Response to the WOW intervention was comparable, with both groups demonstrating an increase of approximately 1,485 steps per day (equivalent to more than 5 additional miles walked during the post-intervention week). Health beliefs did not correlate to activity at baseline or intervention response. No significant associations between activity and asthma control, FEV1, or duration of diagnosis were found. Intervention response was comparable across racial/ethnic groups, children versus adolescents, and between normal weight and overweight youth.
Contrary to expectation, we found similar rates of objectively measured physical activity among youth with well-controlled asthma and controls. Importantly, we documented statistically significant increases in physical activity across both groups following a brief, pedometer-based intervention. The intervention was successful even among typically sedentary groups, and represents an effective, safe, and inexpensive walking program.