BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Asthma is a common paediatric airway disease with increasing prevalence. Studies comparing swimming with other sports have found that swimming is unlikely to provoke unstable asthma but possible benefits are not defined. This study investigated the benefits of a 6 week swimming intervention on pulmonary function tests (PFT), PEF and severity of asthma in children. METHODS: Young asthmatics were randomly assigned to the experimental or the control group, with 15 subjects in each group. In addition to regular treatment for asthma, the experimental group received swimming training for 6 weeks. PFT, PEF and severity of asthma were measured. RESULTS: There was a significant improvement (P < 0.01) in PEF in the experimental group compared with the control group (330 L/min, 95% CI: 309-351 vs. 252 L/min, 95% CI: 235-269) after the swimming intervention. There was also a significant improvement (P < 0.05) in the severity of asthma in the experimental group compared with the control group. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that a swimming programme for asthmatic children can improve some disease parameters (PEF and the severity of asthma). Swimming may be an effective non-pharmacological intervention for the child or adolescent with asthma.
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