Physical activity for children with chronic disease; a narrative review and practical applications Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) is associated with a diverse range of health benefits. International guidelines suggest that children should be participating in a minimum of 60 min of moderate to vigorous intensity PA per day to achieve these benefits. However, current guidelines are intended for healthy children, and thus may not be applicable to children with a chronic disease. Specifically, the dose of PA and disease specific exercise considerations are not included in these guidelines, leaving such children with few, if any, evidence-based informed suggestions pertaining to PA. Thus, the purpose of this narrative review was to consider current literature in the area of exercise as medicine and provide practical applications for exercise in five prevalent pediatric chronic diseases: respiratory, congenital heart, metabolic, systemic inflammatory/autoimmune, and cancer. METHODS: For each disease, we present the pathophysiology of exercise intolerance, summarize the pediatric exercise intervention research, and provide PA suggestions. RESULTS: Overall, exercise intolerance is prevalent in pediatric chronic disease. PA is important and safe for most children with a chronic disease, however exercise prescription should involve the entire health care team to create an individualized program. CONCLUSIONS: Future research, including a systematic review to create evidence-based guidelines, is needed to better understand the safety and efficacy of exercise among children with chronic disease.


  • West, Sarah L
  • Banks, Laura
  • Schneiderman, Jane E
  • Caterini, Jessica E
  • Stephens, Samantha
  • White, Gillian
  • Dogra, Shilpa
  • Wells, Greg

publication date

  • December 2019