To investigate longitudinally whether asthma or wheeze at age 4 years of age was associated with lower physical activity levels at the age of 6 years.

In the study, the researchers included 391 children from the Australian HealthNuts cohort who had follow-up at the ages of 4 and 6 years, agreed to wear an accelerometer, and returned valid data. At the age of 4 years, 8.7% had current asthma, and 14.6% had ever wheezed or had asthma.

Asthma and wheeze data were collected by using a standardized, validated questionnaire at the ages of 4 and 6 years. Physical activity was measured through accelerometry after the age 6 visit. Participants wore an accelerometer watch on the wrist of their nondominant hand 24 hours per day for 8 consecutive days, even while sleeping, swimming, and bathing. Associations were investigated by using linear adjusted regression models. The primary outcome was daily minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA).

There was no evidence of difference in time spent in MVPA at the age of 6 years between children with and without asthma at the age of 4. Children with asthma spent 8.3 minutes more time physically active per day (95% confidence interval [CI]: −5.6 to 22.1; P = .24) than children without asthma did. Children with current wheeze spent 5.8 minutes per day more than those without did (95% CI: −5.9 to 17.5; P = .33), and those who had ever experienced wheeze or asthma spent 7.7 minutes per day more than those who had never done so (95% CI: −4.8 to 20.2; P = .23). Null results were also observed in the cross-sectional analyses. Interaction with BMI could not be assessed. Earlier asthma or wheeze status and sex were not found to modify these associations.

In this study, the researchers found no evidence of an association between asthma and reduced physical activity in young Australian children.

Physical inactivity is a considerable risk factor for the development of a variety of illnesses. Asthma is the most common chronic condition in childhood and may result in unnecessary restrictions on physical activity in children, despite guidelines encouraging the opposite. With this prospective study, the authors provides evidence that there is no association between asthma or wheeze and decreased MVPA in Australian children. This reveals that Australian children are successfully maintaining physical activity despite asthma or wheezing. This success should be emulated in other settings and populations, to ensure that patients with asthma and their families are aware that physical activity is beneficial and should be encouraged in asthmatics.