Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Urban Vitality

Simba

Child therapists encourage children with asthma to get more exercise

Project

For children with asthma, exercise is essential to the condition of the lungs. Exercise strengthens the respiratory muscles, which in turn makes children fitter. Unfortunately, children with asthma get less exercise than their healthy peers; as a result, they have lower endurance, weaker muscles and a higher incidence of overweight compared to healthy children.

Occupational and physical therapists who treat children with asthma meet with them on a weekly basis to:

  • help increase their physical fitness;
  • teach them to manage their asthma;
  • teach them to breathe efficiently during exercise.

These treatments often have positive effects in the short term. There is still little insight into factors of exercise habits that influence the likelihood of children with asthma maintaining daily physical activity.

DEVELOPMENT OF EXERCISE GAME

In the SIMBA project, researchers are working with child therapists, respiratory nurses, parents and children with asthma to develop a digital exercise tool. This tool uses games to encourage children with asthma to engage in daily exercise, and to rediscover or increase their enjoyment of these activities. Healthcare professionals use this tool during treatment or aftercare.

PROMOTING EXERCISE HABITS

Researchers held interviews with children, parents and care providers to determine which factors influence the exercise habits of children with asthma. The exercise tool Foxfit was subsequently developed. Foxfit has interactive modules with personal objectives, educational material and an agenda function, and offers interesting visual feedback on users’ exercise habits and bonus points earned.

TEST PHASE

In the current phase of the study, the usability of the exercise tool is being tested. The participants include children with asthma (aged 8-11 years) who need additional exercise and are currently being treated for their asthma at Amsterdam UMC, Kinderkliniek Almere or Tergooi Baricum/Hilversum.

In an earlier phase of the study, children with asthma tested the prototype of the Foxfit exercise app and the accompanying wristband during a trial day at the AUAS. Read the news item about this SIMBA trial day.

RAAK public sector

This study has been made possible in part by the RAAK public sector scheme (SIA).

Published by  Urban Vitality 23 September 2019