Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a supervised walking program in women with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS).
Methods: Forty-five sedentary women fulfilling the American European Consensus Criteria for pSS were randomized to a training group (TG, n = 23) or control group (CG, n = 22). Patients in the TG were submitted to supervise walking three times a week for 16 weeks. The patients of the CG were instructed to not perform any kind of regular physical exercise. Physical fitness [maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) and distance], EULAR Sjögren's Syndrome Disease Activity Index (ESSDAI), hematological tests, and Medical Outcomes Study 36 (SF-36) were assessed at baseline and week 16. In addition, EULAR Sjögren's Syndrome Patient Reported Index (ESSPRI), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Fatigue Subscale (FACIT-fatigue), and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were measured prior to intervention, after 8 and 16 weeks. Patient global assessment of response to therapy was completed at the final assessment. An intent-to-treat analysis was performed.
Results: After 16 weeks, the mean change of VO2max (ml/kg/min), distance, and FACIT-fatigue were higher in the TG than in the CG (p = 0.016, p = 0.043 and p = 0.030, respectively). Improved cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with improvements in fatigue scores and physical components of quality of life (SF-36). Furthermore, improved fatigue scores were associated with reduced depression and improvements in the physical and mental components of SF-36. Overall, 95.4% of patients in the TG rated themselves as clinically improved versus 62% of the patients in the CG (p = 0.049). There was no flare in disease activity and no serious adverse events with exercise.
Conclusions: This supervised walking program was demonstrated to be feasible and safe with improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, exercise tolerance, fatigue, and patient perception of improvement in pSS patients.
Trial registration: Clinical Trials.gov ID, number NCT02370225.
Keywords: Exercise; Fatigue; Rehabilitation; Sjögren’s syndrome.