Physical activity and exercise have long been considered an important part of spondyloarthritis (SpA) treatment. A new study now adds fresh evidence, showing recreational physical activity to be highly beneficial.
Researchers analyzing data from the Incheon Saint Mary’s Axial Spondyloarthritis Study found that higher levels of physical activity – and recreational activities in particular, such as hiking, dancing, playing sports, etc. – correlated with improved functioning in people with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). Physical activity was associated with improved functioning regardless of disease activity, according to findings published in Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism.1
During the study period, 185 people with axSpA completed questionnaires to evaluate physical activity and their functioning. Physical activity was measured using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ), a self-reported questionnaire developed by the World Health Organization. This was the first study to use the GPAQ to investigate the association between three different subtypes of physical activity (work or occupational physical activity, transport or commuting physical activity, and recreational activity) and functioning in axSpA.2 Levels of physical activity were categorized as low, moderate, or high.
Physical functioning was assessed using the Bath Axial Spondyloarthritis Functional Index (BASFI), and global function was assessed using the Assessment of Spondyloarthritis International Society Health Index (ASAS HI).1
Of the patients studied, 46 (25%), 63 (34%), and 76 (41%) participated in low, moderate, and high levels of physical activity respectively. Patients with lower physical activity scored higher on the BASFI, indicating higher levels of functional limitation. Moderate and high levels of physical activity significantly correlated with improved global functioning.3
After analyzing the subtypes of physical activity, researchers found that recreational activity impacted global functioning more than work and transport-related physical activity in those with axSpA.
“The primary goal of treating axSpA is to maximize long-term, health-related quality of life by controlling symptoms and inflammation, preventing progressive structural damage, and preserving function and social participation,” the authors wrote. “However, compared with disease activity, physical function seems to be a relatively neglected target in patients with axSpA, even though physical function is a major contributor to disability associated with the disease.”2
“This [study] highlights the importance of maintaining a moderate level of physical activity to preserve global functioning in daily life,” they said.
Looking to get more active? Check out SAA’s new exercise video collaboration with SpondyStrong, featuring a series of gentle, fun, and easily modifiable fitness and yoga routines tailored specifically to those with SpA!
- Physical activity is associated with physical and global function in patients with axial spondyloarthritis, independent of disease activity – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Physical activity is associated with physical and global function in patients with axial spondyloarthritis, independent of disease activity – ScienceDirect
- Physical Activity Improves Global Functioning in Axial Spondyloarthritis – Rheumatology Advisor
Spondylitis Association of America