Aim The research study explored the exercise habits of children diagnosed with an arrhythmic heart condition, with the intention of eliciting current exercise regimes and identifying any barriers preventing exercise participation.
Background Some children diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias are subject to exercise restrictions (Heidbuchel et al., 2006a; Heidbuchel et al., 2006b). In clinical practice observations were made which identified anxieties relating to exercise participation in children diagnosed with arrhythmias. Children and their parents identified anxieties about the development of exercise induced symptoms and also displayed variation in their knowledge of what exercise was safe. In some cases parents advised against their child exercising.
Method A retrospective cross-sectional quantitative descriptive survey was performed to answer three research questions. Participants were enrolled during attendance at a paediatric arrhythmia clinic, between November 2014 and March 2015.
Results 41 children, aged 7 to 16 years of age, and their parents were approached to participate. 22 males and 19 females, with a variety of arrhythmic conditions were included. Age and gender differences in exercise participation were identified with males and children, aged 7 to 11 years, engaging in significantly more exercise than females and adolescents. However, few participants are achieving national exercise recommendations. Barriers to exercise were identified including: anxiety of developing exercise induced symptoms; the development of exercise induced symptoms; pharmacological and interventional treatments (beta-blocker therapy or cardiac device); parental anxiety and influence on exercise participation; and lack of knowledge of safe exercise.
Conclusion Children and their parents would benefit from individualised exercise information to ensure they are able to participate in suitable exercise activities. Exercise barriers should be identified by appropriate health care professionals to prevent unnecessary exercise restrictions with strategies implemented to overcome these barriers. The long term benefits of exercise within the remit of the arrhythmic condition should be promoted to influence the exercise regimes of children diagnosed with arrhythmias.
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