Low levels of fitness are associated with increased body mass index (BMI), both of which are related to quality of life (QoL) and the occurrence and severity of asthma. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to co-develop and implement a six-month high-intensity interval training (HIIT) intervention targeting aerobic fitness, BMI and QoL improvements in adolescents with asthma.
616 adolescents participated in the study, with 223 enrolled in the school based HIIT intervention, consisting of 10-30second bouts at >90%age-predicted maximum heart-rate with equal rest for 30 minutes three times a week. Formative group interviews to elicit the views of adolescents with and without asthma on asthma and exercise were used to inform the design of the intervention. Anthropometrics, aerobic fitness, lung function and QoL were measured at baseline, mid-point and post-intervention to evaluate the intervention’s impact; follow-up measures were also taken to evaluate sustainability.
Focus groups revealed participants with asthma had a fear of asthma attack through exercise, although fear did not act as a barrier, and that the intervention should be varied to circumvent activity-specific anxieties. Participants with asthma were found to have higher BMI and lower physical activity in comparison to their peers, but no difference in cardiorespiratory fitness. The intervention elicited significant improvements in peak cardiorespiratory fitness, irrespective of asthma, while maintaining BMI which increased in the controls; no changes were observed in the sub-maximal exercise parameters, QoL or lung function.
The present findings suggest that HIIT may be effective at increasing peak cardiorespiratory fitness and preventing increases in BMI in adolescents, irrespective of asthma status. Overall, the series of studies show that asthma does not deleteriously influence maximal and sub-maximal aerobic fitness, or trainability in adolescents, and that HIIT is a safe exercise modality for adolescents with asthma.
My research interests are asthma, maturation and physical activity interventions.
Research activity (conferences, congress, annual scientific meeting)
This work is funded by the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research [AUK-AC-2012-01] and Swansea University Medical School. Commando Joe’s® implemented the intervention and I would like to thank Matthew Hudson for his help running the sessions.