Objective: To explore the longterm effect of a 3-month exercise program on leisure time physical activity level in individuals with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA).
Methods: A secondary analysis was performed on data from 100 individuals with axSpA who were included in a randomized controlled trial. The exercise group (EG) participated in a 3-month exercise program while the control group (CG) received no intervention. Physical activity during leisure time was measured with a questionnaire (physically active: ≥ 1 h/week with moderate/vigorous intensity physical activity). Disease activity was measured with the Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Scale (ASDAS; higher score = worst). Statistical analyses were performed on an intention-to-treat basis using chi-square tests, logistic regression, and mixed models.
Results: At the 12-month followup, significantly more individuals in the EG than in the CG were physically active [29 (67%) vs 13 (30%), p < 0.001] and exercised 2-3 times/week [25 (58%) vs 15 (34%), p = 0.02], and fewer exercised at light intensity [3 (8%) vs 14 (44%), p = 0.002]. "Participation in the EG" (OR 6.7, 95% CI 2.4-18.6, p < 0.001) and "being physically active at baseline" (OR 4.7, 95% CI 1.4-15.8, p = 0.01) were the factors most associated with being physically active. There were no differences between the groups in ASDAS (p = 0.79).
Conclusion: A 3-month exercise program had a beneficial longterm effect on leisure time physical activity in individuals with axSpA, thus indicating a more beneficial health profile. Still, few individuals continued the intensive program, and there was no difference between the groups in disease activity after 12 months. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02356874).
Keywords: EXERCISE; PHYSICAL ACTIVITY; SPONDYLOARTHRITIS.