Two papers were selected for this commentary. The first paper (Citation 1) suggests that a 10-week, moderate-intensity exercise program performed early after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is feasible in this fragile population, and might improve cell cytotoxicity by redistributing subpopulations of NK cells. This study adds to the growing evidence that enhancing immune cell surveillance (e.g., NK cells) in response to exercise could benefit cancer patients. The second paper (Citation 2) studied neutrophil-related mediators of oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokines in response to exercise in children compared with adults. The authors found age/maturation-related differences in these responses. The paper provides a valuable introduction to the current knowledge of maturational changes in immune mediators’ response to exercise. Data about leukocyte function in response to exercise in healthy children and in children with clinical conditions is scant. The need for prospective large scale pediatric clinical exercise studies is clear. Molecular approaches to understand the mechanisms through which physical activity can improve health will help to shape guidelines that optimize the mode, frequency, intensity, and duration of the training intervention.
Dan M. Cooper and Shlomit Radom-Aizik
Shlomit Radom-Aizik and Dan M. Cooper
In this review, we highlight promising new discoveries that may generate useful and clinically relevant insights into the mechanisms that link exercise with growth during critical periods of development. Growth in childhood and adolescence is unique among mammals and is a dynamic process regulated by an evolution of hormonal and inflammatory mediators, age-dependent progression of gene expression, and environmentally modulated epigenetic mechanisms. Many of these same processes likely affect molecular transducers of physical activity. How the molecular signaling associated with growth is synchronized with signaling associated with exercise is poorly understood. Recent advances in “omics”—namely genomics and epigenetics, metabolomics, and proteomics—now provide exciting approaches and tools that can be used for the first time to address this gap. A biologic definition of “healthy” exercise that links the metabolic transducers of physical activity with parallel processes that regulate growth will transform health policy and guidelines that promote optimal use of physical activity.
Kim D. Lu, Dan Cooper, Raluca Dubrowski, Melanie Barwick, and Shlomit Radom-Aizik
Purpose: Despite the known health benefits of physical activity (PA), few primary care pediatricians discuss, evaluate, or prescribe PA for children. The goal of this study was to examine pediatricians’ thoughts and practices related to child PA and the perceived facilitators and barriers to implementing PA evaluation and prescription in pediatric primary care clinics. Methods: The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research was used to explore implementation barriers and facilitators. A mixed-method design combined questionnaires and focus groups with 27 pediatricians. Results: Despite the pediatricians’ beliefs that PA is important for patients, there was wide practice variability in their approaches to discussing PA. Several perceived barriers to implementing PA evaluation and prescription were identified, including lack of knowledge and training, managing time for PA with multiple demands, the need for a team approach and simple PA tools and resources, support for patient tailoring of PA messaging, and a need for PA best practice champions. Conclusion: The identified barriers to implementing evidence in PA suggest several directions for improvement, including a care-team approach; quick, inexpensive, and simple PA tools; community PA partnerships; PA training in medical education; evidence-based strategies; and PA directories for families. These efforts could facilitate the implementation of PA best practices in pediatrics.
Dan M. Cooper, Szu-Yun Leu, Candice Taylor-Lucas, Kim Lu, Pietro Galassetti, and Shlomit Radom-Aizik
Consensus has yet to be achieved on whether obesity is inexorably tied to poor fitness. We tested the hypothesis that appropriate reference of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) variables to lean body mass (LBM) would eliminate differences in fitness between high-BMI (≥ 95th percentile, n = 72, 50% female) and normal-BMI (< 85th percentile, n = 142, 49% female), otherwise-healthy children and adolescents typically seen when referencing body weight. We measured body composition with dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and CPET variables from cycle ergometry using both peak values and submaximal exercise slopes (peak VO2, ΔVO2/ΔHR, ΔWR/ΔHR, ΔVO2/ΔWR, and ΔVE/ΔVCO2). In contrast to our hypothesis, referencing to LBM tended to lessen, but did not eliminate, the differences (peak VO2 [p < .004] and ΔVO2/ΔHR [p < .02]) in males and females; ΔWR/ΔHR differed between the two groups in females (p = .041) but not males (p = .1). The mean percent predicted values for all CPET variables were below 100% in the high-BMI group. The pattern of CPET abnormalities suggested a pervasive impairment of O2 delivery in the high-BMI group (ΔVO2/ΔWR was in fact highest in normal-BMI males). Tailoring lifestyle interventions to the specific fitness capabilities of each child (personalized exercise medicine) may be one of the ways to stem what has been an intractable epidemic.
Kim D. Lu, Krikor Manoukian, Shlomit Radom-Aizik, Dan M. Cooper, and Stanley P. Galant
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.
Kimberley D. Lakes, Maryam M. Abdullah, Julie Youssef, Joseph H. Donnelly, Candice Taylor-Lucas, Wendy A. Goldberg, Dan Cooper, and Shlomit Radom-Aizik
The purpose of this study was to examine a new tool (PPPAS = Parent Perceptions of Physical Activity Scale-Preschool) developed to study parental perceptions of physical activity (PA) among parents of toddler and preschool age children.
143 children (mean age 31.65 months; 75% male) and their parents were recruited from a neurodevelopmental clinic. Parents completed questionnaires, and both a psychologist and a physician evaluated the children. Eighty-three percent of the children received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder; 20% of the children had a BMI > 85th percentile. Analyses were conducted to evaluate the reliability, concurrent validity, discriminant validity, and predictive validity of PPPAS scores.
Results supported a two-factor structure: Perceptions of the Benefits of PA and the Barriers to PA. The internal consistency of scores was good for both PPPAS subscales, derived from the two factors. Parent perceptions of barriers to PA were significantly correlated with delays in overall adaptive functioning, daily living skills, socialization, and motor skills. When a child’s motor skills were delayed, parents were less likely to believe PA was beneficial and perceived more barriers to PA. Parent perceptions of barriers to PA predicted parent-reported weekly unstructured PA and ratings of how physically active their child was compared with other children.
We present the PPPAS-Preschool for use in pediatric exercise research and discuss potential applications for the study of parent perceptions of PA in young children.
Alon Eliakim, Bareket Falk, Neil Armstrong, Fátima Baptista, David G. Behm, Nitzan Dror, Avery D. Faigenbaum, Kathleen F. Janz, Jaak Jürimäe, Amanda L. McGowan, Dan Nemet, Paolo T. Pianosi, Matthew B. Pontifex, Shlomit Radom-Aizik, Thomas Rowland, and Alex V. Rowlands
This commentary highlights 23 noteworthy publications from 2018, selected by leading scientists in pediatric exercise science. These publications have been deemed as significant or exciting in the field as they (a) reveal a new mechanism, (b) highlight a new measurement tool, (c) discuss a new concept or interpretation/application of an existing concept, or (d) describe a new therapeutic approach or clinical tool in youth. In some cases, findings in adults are highlighted, as they may have important implications in youth. The selected publications span the field of pediatric exercise science, specifically focusing on: aerobic exercise and training; neuromuscular physiology, exercise, and training; endocrinology and exercise; resistance training; physical activity and bone strength; growth, maturation, and exercise; physical activity and cognition; childhood obesity, physical activity, and exercise; pulmonary physiology or diseases, exercise, and training; immunology and exercise; cardiovascular physiology and disease; and physical activity, inactivity, and health.