OBJECTIVE: Since decades, supervised group exercise (SGE) is recommended for people with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). This study examines if weekly SGE contributes to fulfillment of exercise recommendations in axSpA patients.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data from three studies with axSpA patients in The Netherlands, including two with outpatient populations (n = 196 and n = 153) and one with SGE participants (n = 128), were analysed. Sociodemographic and disease characteristics, SGE participation, health status (ASAS Health Index), spinal mobility and fulfillment of the recommendations for leisure-time aerobic (≥150 min/week moderate-intensity or ≥75 min/week vigorous-intensity) and strength and mobility (≥2 sessions/week) exercise (measured with SQUASH-questionnaire) were assessed. Differences between patients with and without SGE were analysed.
RESULTS: In the two outpatient populations (n = 349), 17 patients (5%) used SGE. The SGE participants (n = 145) were significantly older, had longer disease duration, were less frequently employed, used less medication and had worse spinal mobility than patients without SGE (n = 332). There were no significant differences in health status. Patients with SGE fulfilled the moderate-intensity aerobic (89 % vs. 69%) and strength and mobility (44 % vs. 29%) exercise recommendations more often than patients without SGE, but the aerobic exercise recommendation was less often fulfilled with vigorous-intensity exercise (5 % vs. 12%).
CONCLUSION: SGE is used by just few, especially older, axSpA patients and contributes to fulfilling recommendations for moderate-intensity, mobility and strength exercise. Both in patients with and without SGE, only a minority fulfilled the recommendations for vigorous-intensity, strength and mobility exercises. Therefore, future promotion of exercise should focus on implementing these types of exercise.