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Physical activity and exercise training in cystic fibrosis (Cochrane review) [with consumer summary]
Radtke T, Smith S, Nevitt SJ, Hebestreit H, Kriemler S
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022;Issue 8
systematic review

BACKGROUND: Physical activity (including exercise) may form an important part of regular care for people with cystic fibrosis (CF). This is an update of a previously published review. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of physical activity interventions on exercise capacity by peak oxygen uptake, lung function by forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and further important patient-relevant outcomes in people with cystic fibrosis (CF). SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group Trials Register which comprises references identified from comprehensive electronic database searches and handsearches of relevant journals and abstract books of conference proceedings. The most recent search was on 3 March 2022. We also searched two ongoing trials registers:, most recently on 4 March 2022; and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), most recently on 16 March 2022. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs comparing physical activity interventions of any type and a minimum intervention duration of two weeks with conventional care (no physical activity intervention) in people with CF. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently selected RCTs for inclusion, assessed methodological quality and extracted data. We assessed the certainty of the evidence using GRADE. MAIN RESULTS: We included 24 parallel RCTs (875 participants). The number of participants in the studies ranged from nine to 117, with a wide range of disease severity. The studies' age demographics varied: in two studies, all participants were adults; in 13 studies, participants were 18 years and younger; in one study, participants were 15 years and older; in one study, participants were 12 years and older; and seven studies included all age ranges. The active training programme lasted up to and including six months in 14 studies, and longer than six months in the remaining 10 studies. Of the 24 included studies, seven implemented a follow-up period (when supervision was withdrawn, but participants were still allowed to exercise) ranging from one to 12 months. Studies employed differing levels of supervision: in 12 studies, training was supervised; in 11 studies, it was partially supervised; and in one study, training was unsupervised. The quality of the included studies varied widely. This Cochrane Review shows that, in studies with an active training programme lasting over six months in people with CF, physical activity probably has a positive effect on exercise capacity when compared to no physical activity (usual care) (mean difference (MD) 1.60, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.16 to 3.05; 6 RCTs, 348 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). The magnitude of improvement in exercise capacity is interpreted as small, although study results were heterogeneous. Physical activity interventions may have no effect on lung function (forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) % predicted) (MD 2.41, 95% CI -0.49 to 5.31; 6 RCTs, 367 participants), HRQoL physical functioning (MD2.19, 95% CI -3.42 to 7.80; 4 RCTs, 247 participants) andHRQoL respiratory domain (MD‚0.05, 95% CI -3.61 to 3.51; 4 RCTs, 251 participants) at six months and longer (low-certainty evidence). One study (117 participants) reported no differences between the physical activity and control groups in the number of participants experiencing a pulmonary exacerbation by six months (incidence rate ratio 1.28, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.94) or in the time to first exacerbation over 12 months (hazard ratio 1.34, 95% CI 0.65 to 2.80) (both high-certainty evidence); and no effects of physical activity on diabetic control (after 1 hour: MD ‚0.04 mmol/L, 95% CI -1.11 to 1.03; 67 participants; after 2 hours: MD -0.44 mmol/L, 95% CI -1.43 to 0.55; 81 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). We found no difference between groups in the number of adverse events over six months (odds ratio 6.22, 95% CI 0.72 to 53.40; 2 RCTs, 156 participants; low-certainty evidence). For other time points (up to and including six months and during a follow-up period with no active intervention), the effects of physical activity versus control were similar to those reported for the outcomes above. However, only three out of seven studies adding a follow-up period with no active intervention (ranging between one and 12 months) reported on the primary outcomes of changes in exercise capacity and lung function, and one on HRQoL. These data must be interpreted with caution. Altogether, given the heterogeneity of effects across studies, the wide variation in study quality and lack of information on clinically meaningful changes for several outcome measures, we consider the overall certainty of evidence on the effects of physical activity interventions on exercise capacity, lung function andHRQoL to be low to moderate. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Physical activity interventions for six months and longer likely improve exercise capacity when compared to no training (moderatecertainty evidence). Current evidence shows little or no effect on lung function and HRQoL (low-certainty evidence). Over recent decades, physical activity has gained increasing interest and is already part of multidisciplinary care offered to most people with CF. Adverse effects of physical activity appearance and there is no reason to actively discourage regular physical activity and exercise. The benefits of including physical activity in an individual's regular care may be influenced by the type and duration of the activity programme as well as individual preferences for and barriers to physical activity. Further high-quality and sufficiently-sized studies are needed to comprehensively assess the benefits of physical activity and exercise in people with CF, particularly in the new era of CF medicine.

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