BACKGROUND: Physical exercise training may form an important part of regular care for people with cystic fibrosis. This is an update of previously published reviews.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the effects of physical exercise training compared to no training on aerobic exercise capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second, health-related quality of life and other patient-relevant (secondary) outcomes in cystic fibrosis.
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.Date of the most recent search: 10 March 2015.
SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised and quasi-randomised controlled clinical trials comparing exercise training of any type and duration with conventional care in people with cystic fibrosis.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently selected studies for inclusion, assessed methodological quality and extracted data.
MAIN RESULTS: Of the 48 studies identified, 13 studies which included 402 participants, met the inclusion criteria. The numbers in each study ranged from nine up to 72 participants; one study was in adults, six were in children and adolescents and six studies included all age ranges. Four studies of hospitalised participants lasted less than one month and nine studies were outpatient-based, lasting between two months and three years. The studies included participants with a wide range of disease severity and employed differing levels of supervision with a mixture of types of training. There was also wide variation in the quality of the included studies.This systematic review shows limited evidence from both short- and long-term studies that in people with cystic fibrosis aerobic or anaerobic physical exercise training or a combination of both has a positive effect on aerobic exercise capacity, pulmonary function and health-related quality of life. Although improvements are not consistent between studies and ranged from no effects to clearly positive effects, the most consistent effects of the heterogeneous exercise training modalities and durations were found for maximal aerobic exercise capacity (in four out of six studies) with unclear effects on FEV1 (in two out of 10 studies) and health-related quality of life (in two out of five studies).
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Evidence about the efficacy of physical exercise training in cystic fibrosis from 13 small studies with low to moderate methodological quality is limited. Exercise training is already part of regular outpatient care offered to most people with cystic fibrosis, and since there is some evidence for beneficial effects on aerobic fitness and no negative side effects exist, there is no reason to actively discourage this. The benefits from including physical exercise training in an individual's regular care may be influenced by the type and duration of the training programme. High quality randomised controlled trials are needed to comprehensively assess the benefits of exercise programmes in people with cystic fibrosis and the relative benefits of the addition of aerobic versus anaerobic versus a combination of both types of physical exercise training to the care of people with cystic fibrosis.