Background: Within exercise interventions for children and adolescents with asthma, control and standardisation are emphasised which may challenge patient involvement. Involving patients in research may improve the methodology and outcomes of the research.
Objectives: We aimed to develop an active-play exercise intervention for children and adolescents with asthma accommodated for a future randomised-controlled trial by involving children and adolescents with asthma and evaluating their on-site perceptions of participation.
Methods: In the `PhysicaL activity, an Asthma and Youth (PLAY)-study´, we piloted a 6-week active play exercise intervention in six 10-12-year-old children with asthma. Each of 2 weekly 60-min exercise sessions consisted of 10-15 min warm-up, 30-35 min of endurance-based activities, and 5-10 min cool-down. Endurance activities were designed as team games, relays and tags. Evaluation included measures of attendance rate and exercise intensity, and qualitative field observations and focus-group interviews of participating children.
Results: Participating children reported satisfaction and enjoyment which increased their effort, and were especially enthusiastic about ball games and obstacle courses. No withdrawal from exercise activities because of asthma were observed. Children reported exercise instructors as encouraging and kind, distributing their attention to each individual participant and making it easier to manage intense exercise. Attendance rate was 90% and exercise intensity was ≥80% of maximal heart rate for two thirds of endurance activities. Observations revealed easy-to-master activities, an inclusive atmosphere, humor, and mutual participation by peers with asthma.
Conclusions: The construction of the controlled active-play exercise intervention environment targeting relatively high exercise intensity was accommodated to children´s own premises of satisfaction, enjoyment, mastering and participation. The design and methodological framework are well suited to proceed and involve 13-15 and 16-18-year-old participants, and refine and accommodate exercise activities and the intervention environment to adolescents´ premises.