Open Access Open Badges Research article

Mothers impose physical activity restrictions on their asthmatic children and adolescents: an analytical cross-sectional study

Fabianne MNA Dantas1, Marco AV Correia2, Almerinda R Silva3, Décio M Peixoto3, Emanuel SC Sarinho3 and José A Rizzo4*

Author Affiliations

1 Hospital Agamenon Magalhães, Pos-graduação em Ciências da Saúde. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

2 Universidade de Pernambuco, Petrolina, Brazil

3 Center for Research in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Pediatrics Department, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

4 Center for Research in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Clinical Medicine Department - Pneumology, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:287  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-287

Published: 28 March 2014



Physical activities are important for children and adolescents, especially asthmatics. A significant proportion is considered less active than their non-asthmatic peers and mother’s beliefs about asthma are thought to be a determinant factor.

The research objectives were to investigate whether mothers try to impose limitations on the physical activity (PA) of their asthmatic children/adolescents; identify associated factors; and explore if this attitude has any impact on children’s PA levels.


In this cross sectional investigation, we studied 115 asthmatics aged between 9 and 19 years and their mothers. Asthma severity, PA level and exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB) were evaluated. Mothers were questioned on their beliefs about physical activity in non-asthmatic and asthmatic children, if they imposed restrictions on their children’s physical activity, on EIB perception and personal levels of anxiety and depression.


Ninety six percent of the mothers answered that PA are important for children and adolescents. Despite this, 37% of them admitted imposing restrictions to their children’s PA. This attitude was associated with mother’s negative opinions about asthmatics doing PA, perception of children’s dyspnea after running on a treadmill, mother’s anxiety level and children’s asthma severity. The mother’s restrictive attitudes were not associated with children’s lower PA levels.


A high proportion of the mothers said that they restrained their asthmatic children from engaging in physical activity. This fact should be recognized by health professionals and discussed with parents and caregivers as these negative beliefs may lead to conflicts and prejudiced attitudes that could discourage children’s involvement in physical activities and sports.

Asthma; Child; Adolescent; Physical activity; Restriction