Background We have reported that a 12-week exercise program is beneficial for the exercise performance of severely burned children. It is not known, however, whether the beneficial effects remain at 2 years postburn. Methods Severely burned children who received no long-term anabolic drugs were consented to this Institutional Review Board–approved study. Patients chose between a voluntary exercise program (EX-group) and no exercise (NoEX-group) after discharge from the acute burn unit. Peak torque per lean leg mass, maximal oxygen consumption, and percent predicted peak heart rate were assessed. In addition, body mass index percentile and lean body mass index were recorded. Both groups were compared for up to 2 years postburn using mixed multiple analysis of variance. Results A total of 125 patients with a mean age of 12 ± 4 years were analyzed. Demographics between the EX-group (N = 82) and NoEX-group (N = 43) were comparable. In the EX-group, peak torque per lean leg mass, percent predicted peak heart rate, and maximal oxygen consumption increased significantly with exercise (P < .01). Between discharge and 12–24 months, body mass index percentile increased significantly in the EX-Group (P < .05) but did not change in the NoEX-group. There were no significant differences between groups in body mass index percentile, lean body mass index, peak torque per lean leg mass, and maximal oxygen consumption at 24 months postburn. Conclusion Exercise significantly improves the physical performance of burned children. The benefits are limited to early time points, however, and greatly narrow with further recovery time. Continued participation in exercise activities or a maintenance exercise program is recommended for exercise-induced adaptations to continue.
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