Obesity increases the risk of asthma throughout life but the underlying mechanisms linking these all too common threats to child health are poorly understood. Acute bouts of exercise, aerobic fitness, and levels of physical activity clearly play a role in the pathogenesis and/or management of both childhood obesity and asthma. Moreover, both obesity and physical inactivity are associated with asthma symptoms and response to therapy (a particularly challenging feature of obesity-related asthma). In this article, we review current understandings of the link between physical activity, aerobic fitness and the asthma-obesity link in children and adolescents (e.g., the impact of chronic low-grade inflammation, lung mechanics, and direct effects of metabolic health on the lung). Gaps in our knowledge regarding the physiological mechanisms linking asthma, obesity and exercise are often compounded by imprecise estimations of adiposity and challenges of assessing aerobic fitness in children. Addressing these gaps could lead to practical interventions and clinical approaches that could mitigate the profound health care crisis of the increasing comorbidity of asthma, physical inactivity, and obesity in children.
Lu, Radom-Aizik, Galant, and Cooper are with the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center, Dept. of Pediatrics, UC Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, CA. Galant is with Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Orange, CA. Manoukian is with the Dept. of Medicine, UC Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, CA.