Physical fitness is an essential marker of health. The literature regarding the question of whether individuals with asthma have reduced physical fitness compared to their non-asthmatic peers is inconsistent and focuses on the cardiorespiratory endurance dimension. This study provides a comparison of different dimensions of physical fitness in individuals with and without asthma on the basis of the German population-based study “KiGGS” (German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents) and its in-depth study “MoMo” (2009-2012: wave 1 and 2014-2017: wave 2).
In total, 7731 individuals aged 6-30 years were included in this cross-sectional analysis at two measurement waves, including 353 individuals with and 7378 without asthma. The 12-month prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was assessed by interview. Physical fitness was measured by six test items of the MoMo test profile. “Cardiorespiratory endurance” was measured by an ergometric test, “muscular strength” by standing long jump, push-ups and sit-ups and “coordination” by jumping sideways and balancing backwards. Because of the broad age range of the sample, age- and sex-specific percentiles were used. Physical activity, age, gender and general state of health were assessed by questionnaire.
The individuals with asthma reported a poorer general state of health at both measurement waves. However, the results of the fitness tests indicated that they were as physically fit as their peers without asthma in relation to cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength. The mean percentiles were all within the same range. The results of the comparisons of coordination performance were inconsistent. At wave 1 they were within the same range, at wave 2 individuals with asthma showed a poorer coordination performance (p = 0.041; HL = 4.125, CI of HL 0.155-8.125).
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to compare the physical fitness of individuals with and without asthma by considering several dimensions of physical fitness. The study demonstrates that cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength are not reduced in individuals with asthma. The results of the comparisons at the two measurement waves were remarkably stable.

© 2021. The Author(s).