Swimming exercise is an ideal and excellent form of exercise for patients with osteoarthritis (OA). However, there is no scientific evidence that regular swimming reduces vascular dysfunction and inflammation and elicits similar benefits compared with land-based exercises such as cycling in terms of reducing vascular dysfunction and inflammation in patients with OA. Forty-eight middle-aged and older patients with OA were randomly assigned to swimming or cycling training groups. Cycling training was included as a non-weight-bearing land-based comparison group. After 12 weeks of supervised exercise training, central arterial stiffness, as determined by carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, and carotid artery stiffness, through simultaneous ultrasound and applanation tonometry, decreased significantly after both swimming and cycling training. Vascular endothelial function, as determined by brachial flow-mediated dilation, increased significantly after swimming but not after cycling training. Both swimming and cycling interventions reduced interleukin-6 levels, whereas no changes were observed in other inflammatory markers. In conclusion, these results indicate that regular swimming exercise can exert similar or even superior effects on vascular function and inflammatory markers compared with land-based cycling exercise in patients with OA who often has an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01836380.
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